Candidate for international services director focuses on student engagement


Jill Itzen/Iowa State Daily

Dr. Roopa Rawjee, one of the candidates for Iowa State’s Director of International Students and Scholars, shares why she would best fit the role as the director during the forum Feb. 7. Rawjee was an international student from India.

Lesly Espinoza

Faculty and staff gathered Tuesday in the Soults Family Visitors Center of the Memorial Union to meet Roopa Rawjee, director of International Student and Scholar Services at Bridgewater State University.

Rawjee is one of the candidates for director of the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) at Iowa State. She was the second of three candidates to present her case for the position during an open forum.

After a short introduction, Rawjee explained her values: communication, fairness and equity. To her, equity includes diversity and inclusion.

Rawjee, who was a former international student herself, received her Ed.D. and M.A. in secondary education at California State University. She also earned her bachelor’s and master’s in education at the University of Bombay (Mumbai) India.

Rawjee is currently an executive board member of the Massachusetts Council for International Education. She also is affiliated with NAFSA: Association of International Educators and is a part of Phi Beta Delta, Honor Society for International Scholars.

“I realize that here at Iowa State there is an opportunity to make a difference and to bring my own experiences,” Rawjee said.

Rawjee’s presentation was centered on empowerment. She is determined to make sure international students have a safe place on campus and make ISSO an educational and learning environment.

When it comes to acculturation versus assimilation, she believes it’s important for every student to validate their home culture, language and international student journey.

“I like to ask [students] for their real name and not their American name so that I am able to learn more about them,” Rawjee said.

She also believes in peers engaging with scholars. She hopes to find ways to bring peers with faculty members or alumni who share common backgrounds to help international students with issues they are currently facing.

“We need to support international students by finding them faculty who have gone through experiences they have,” Rawjee said. “Finding peer support and how we can engage them in our campus is something I am curious to do.”

Student Counseling Services also was in attendance and asked how her role might be impacted with the political statements being announced recently.

“It’s my responsibility to get informed about these things to strategize as things change and to demonstrate our commitment as well as our support,” Rawjee said. “I have gone through some of these fears myself, and I want to be there for our students.”

Another faculty member asked her perspective on financial issues and aid for international students.

“It’s an issue because international students do not have the same resources American students have,” Rawjee said. “It’s important to help them find jobs on campus, having information about scholarships while helping them apply and helping our students look for paid internships.”

The last round of open forums will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Soults Family Visitor Center of the Memorial Union.