Campus News - February 12, 2001

Spotlight

Gruenewald's love of 'nitty gritty' serves international students

Jennifer GruenewaldTo UNM's international students Jennifer Gruenewald is more than just their DSO "designated school official." She's a lifeline.

"They are alone here. And a lot of what we do for them is so book/regulation oriented. But we try to help with whatever it is they need. Sometimes that's dropping everything to just sit and talk," she shares.

As associate director of UNM International Programs and Studies, Gruenewald oversees the student and scholar division and helps students, post docs, visiting profs and researchers navigate immigration laws.

People from all around the world study and teach at UNM. China, India, and Mexico supply the most students, many who seek majors in engineering, business or computer science.

Gruenewald slaps a federal regulations book similar to UNM's ''Big Red" on her desk and smiles. "I'm a detail oriented person. I like the nitty gritty of specialized knowledge," she says, noting that interpretations of federal guidelines are extremely tricky. "I help students and scholars stay 'in-status' so they don't jeopardize their stays in the U.S."

"We want them to be able to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them, but at the same time stay within the guidelines," she adds.

Gruenewald also brings an interest in international travel to the job. "When I was 16 we traded houses with a family in England for the summer. I loved it," she says. In college, she delighted in study abroad in London and a French emersion course in Geneva, Switzerland.

She serves as UNM's Fulbright Program advisor and earned herself a Fulbright to Germany in 1999. Last year she taught a short course at a bi-national school in China and hopes to return there in the coming year.

Communicating with people from around the world is not a problem for Gruenewald who earned a master's in communication from UNM in 1994. She also works as a part-time instructor for the Department of Communication and Journalism -- teaching public speaking to mainly undergraduates. "It's fun. It gives me a feel for the domestic population at UNM," she says.

Serving all students is Gruenewald's mission, especially in times of crisis. At present, many students and scholars have family members or friends who are victims of the recent devastating earthquake in western India. Her office is currently accepting donations.

"Whether it's an emergency in their country or a personal emergency, we try to do whatever we can do," she says.

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