International Student Services & Enrollment
SEU is proud and excited to welcome Christian students from dozens of countries and foreign territories worldwide. In fact, we believe so strongly in the value of expanding Christian higher education to all corners of the world that we have a department specifically dedicated to serving international students: the Department of International Student Services and Enrollment (ISSE).
We’re here to guide our international students every step of the way. We’ll help you feel comfortable with the admission and enrollment process, and once you’re here, we help you get adjusted to campus life.
The mission of ISSE is to promote your success as a student. We help international and intercultural students adjust to the college environment by identifying with Southeastern University’s specific culture and promoting effective, positive academic behaviors. ISSE has two admission counselors who are dedicated to international students and can assist with all legal requirements for entering the U.S. to pursue a degree.
We're Here to Help
ISSE serves international students, missionary students, and intercultural students at SEU by helping them with admission to the university and the intricacies involved in staying here as they complete their degree. We also assist with transitioning into the United States, maintaining nonimmigrant student status, and resolving other immigration issues as needed.
Getting students enrolled is just the start. SEU provides a fully comprehensive package to make the transition simple so that you can acclimate to both a new country and to college life. These services include a specialized orientation, workshops, social events, academic support and assistance with finding legal resources as needed.
You’ll need more than dorm accommodations and books to get started in college. That’s why ISSE offers a specialized and very detailed orientation just for international students.
You’ll need visas, homeland security paperwork, and the like, so you’ll move in earlier than domestically based students do to get all of these processes squared away.
SEU volunteers will pick you up from the airport and help you move in, take you out to eat and go school supply shopping. This helps ensure that you don’t feel overwhelmed and gives you time to adjust before student orientation begins for the rest of the new student population.
ISSE hosts numerous workshops and events each semester, designed specifically to help you feel welcome, to take the stress out of the legal side of your education, and to integrate into your new surroundings.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT). These sessions show international students how to intern off-campus and be paid. As long as the internship is related to your field and you are earning college credit, you can usually qualify.
- Social security. In addition to workshops that teach you about social security, ISSE also helps you get your card once you qualify. Once you have a job (on campus) or a CPT position, you’ll qualify for a social security number. ISSE explains what to bring along to the social security office and provides transportation to get there.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT). Once you graduate, you can qualify for OPT, which allows you to get a job anywhere in the U.S. The OPT application is a lengthy process, so if you’re interested in pursuing it, ISSE will help you begin your application during your senior year. ISSE also provides workshops about this so that once graduation comes, you will be able to start working right away.
- Taxes. Tax professionals come to campus help you file the proper forms; one for when you’re working and a different one for when you are not.
- Driver’s licenses. You’ll learn what you need to apply for a driver’s license and even set up a time to receive transportation to the DMV.
- Immigration. To ensure compliance with the law, we bring in a professional immigration lawyer to present ways to stay in the U.S. legally during and after college. The presentation covers everything from applying for a green card to applying for a work visa, and even the process to follow if you’re planning to marry a U.S. citizen, and much more.
The ISSE office invites students to come hang out any time in our study space and a common area and offers a variety of social events to give you a chance to build friendships and community.
- Visa Signature Party. Just because something is required doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fun. Since you have to sign in to make your visa official, we make it a fun event to get the task done and give you a chance to interact with other students.
- “Culture Shock” retreat. Each fall ISSE hosts a one-day weekend event specifically designed to help international students with your transition to American culture. ISSE explains the services we offer through presentations and activities. Returning students share their experiences with new students, giving you all a way to connect and be encouraged.
- Family dinners. Once a month ISSE highlights and celebrates a different continent by taking a group of international students to a restaurant that has the cuisine of that area. We dine together and then do something fun in that area.
- Monthly newsletter. This specialized newsletter serves to highlight and celebrate a different continent each month, featuring our very own international students’ stories. It also provides important information and upcoming ISSE event details to keep you in the know.
- International coffee breaks. During this new event, international students get a chance to connect with others, to be proud of their home and maintain a connection to it. They take turns setting up a “coffee stand” in the ISSE office with the types of snacks and drinks they would eat during a coffee break at home, and other students stop by for refreshments and to learn about the home country.
- International Education Week. To celebrate international students who come here and to encourage students from the U.S. to study abroad, SEU hosts a “world trade day” featuring local attire and items from various countries. ISSE also collaborates with the SEU Study Abroad office to host cultural events for the SEU student body.
- Mu Kappa International. SEU is proud to have our own chapter of Mu Kappa International, a club for students who are “missionary kids” (also referred to as “MKs”). Because these students are American but have spent some or all of their lives abroad, they often come to SEU feeling more like international students. This club gives these students a place to connect and belong.
Our specially trained staff is available to help you before you apply and once you’re here.
Betania Torres joined the ISSE team as the Director for International Student Services and Enrollment in July of 2016, having previously worked in SEU’s Office of Admission. In her role, Torres oversees the operations and program development of the ISSE Department. She also oversees the planning and coordinating of all aspects of social, cultural and educational programs, seminars/workshops and events that promote intercultural educational exchange experiences. These events are planned for the benefit of international students, missionary student, and the SEU community. Torres actively oversees recruitment efforts by working with international students and with the AG Hispanic Districts throughout the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean.
Torres is an active member of international organizations such as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA) and the Florida Association of International Educators (FAIE). She is an associate member of Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and is an integral member of the SEU team that promotes and supports the university’s continuous efforts for comprehensive internationalization. Torres also serves as co-advisor for SEU’s chapter of Mu Kappa International (MK/missionary student club) at SEU.
Paola McGarvey joined the ISSE team as an international student coordinator in July of 2015. She provides immigration advising to students on an F1 Visa. As the Immigration Program Coordinator, she helps to manage the SEVIS database for the undergraduate and graduate admissions offices at SEU. She is also responsible for the monitoring of student records in the university system and reporting student status to the Department of Homeland Security.
McGarvey is an active member of international organizations, such as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA) and the Florida Association of International Educators (FAIE). McGarvey also assists with ISSE seminars and workshops.
Juliana Diaz joined the ISSE team as an international admission counselor in July of 2017. Diaz assists with international student enrollment recruitment and enrollment processes. She also assists when prospective international students and their families visit SEU’s Lakeland campus. Diaz is a member of the Florida Association of International Educators (FAIE). Diaz also assists with ISSE events, seminars and workshops.