Meet The Mentors

Meet the Advisors

Nitivia Jones

Program Coordinator

Pullman, Washington


I know what it means to move to another country. I have done it three times! Two of those experiences were fantastic, and one of those…well, not so great, to say the least. Those experiences help guide me in managing the international student peer mentor program. It is an absolute pleasure to work with the volunteer peer mentors in welcoming new international students to WSU. A smooth transition to WSU and finding support networks soon after arrival are my priorities for this program so that international students can have the absolute best possible experience at WSU.

Nataliya Shcherbatyuk

Assistant Program Coordinator

Prosser, Washington


Greetings! I am Nataliya and I am from Ukraine. I received my PhD in the WSU Horticulture department and am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher. My project is focused on grapevine nutrition. I love plants and animals and will always find time to spend with my indoor plants and my bunny. 🙂 I enjoy listening to audio books, so I am never bored. I am interested in health and fitness, wellbeing, self-development, leadership, and management, and I believe that there is always some space for improvement. I also believe that there is always an exit from any situation no matter how upsetting it might look, we just need to find it. Often, we would benefit from using help and support and that is great because humans were not meant to be alone. I like to say that if you can do it by yourself then it is not challenging enough! I would like to help and share my experience with you, so do not hesitate to reach out.

Nichole Hutchinson

Pullman, Washington, USA

Hello! My name is Nikki, and I am originally from Pullman. After graduating from WSU in 2011 with my bachelor of arts in Anthropology, I was off to teach English in Nishinomiya, Japan. Addicted to life abroad, I spent 5 years in Japan, a summer in South Korea and then a year living in the United Arab Emirates. When the pandemic hit I came back from Dubai and landed in Santa Barbara, California, where I worked with the Office of International Students & Scholars at University of California Santa Barbara. I have recently moved back to Pullman, where I am happy to be close to my family again. As for hobbies, I enjoy watercolor painting, dance (Indian Kathak & Giddha), canoeing, travel, cooking, and studying languages (I speak Punjabi, Hindi, Japanese and a little Arabic!). I really love working in student services at WSU, and am happy to be back in Coug territory! Looking forward to meeting you!

Meet the Mentors

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Valerie Achziger

Eastvale, California, USA


Hello, my name is Valerie and I am a first-generation student studying Animal Science on a Pre-Vet track. I hope to one day travel the world and provide no- to low-cost veterinarian care to those in need. I love meeting new people and learning about their cultures and sharing mine! I also love cooking, the ocean, my two dogs, and I can talk about Marvel movies all day long. I am also always here to help in anyway that I can so never hesitate to ask!

Abiola Adeniran

Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria


My name is Abiola. I am from Nigeria. I am a PhD student at the Composite Material and Engineering Center (CMEC), WSU. My major is Material Science Engineering. I like to cook, watch movies and listen to music. I enjoy meeting new people, learning about different cultures and sharing experiences. Reach out and let’s make your transition to life here seamless!

Deola Naomi Adetunji

Ondo City, Nigeria


Hi future Cougs, My name is Deola but I prefer Naomi because of the easy pronunciation. I’m from Nigeria although not an international student. I major in criminal justice and minor in psychology here at WSU. I’m a transfer student from University of Alaska Anchorage, have loved WSU so far since I transferred from Alaska and as you know I’m use to the cold weather already. During my free time I love cooking and recently have enjoyed going to the cinema because that is the only thing that made me feel alive after a long week apart from studying. I just love chilling in my apartment. As your future mentor I welcome you here at WSU and I’m giving you the assurance that you will have the best college experiences here at WSU.


Mary Aina

Oye-Ekiti, Nigeria


Ekaabo! A way to say Welcome in Yoruba language. Ekaabo si Washington State University 😊. I am an international student from Ekiti, popularly known as the fountain of knowledge in Nigeria. I’m a graduate student in the department of Teaching and Learning in the Curriculum and Instruction program. I’m studying strategies that support STEM learning for underserved student populations. I enjoy visiting new places and meeting people. I look forward to meeting you all. Go Cougs!

Olalekan Akinsulie

Araromi Obu, Ondo State, Nigeria


Hello, welcome to WSU. Your life is about to experience a dramatic change completely positively from now. I am Chris Akinsulie. I am a veterinary doctor by training, with expertise in companion animal medicine. I am originally from the south-western part of Nigeria. I have been to 7 other countries within Africa, Europe, and the United Kingdom as a student, and so I have a rich understanding of what it takes to move into a new country just as you right now. I am currently a second year PhD student in Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the College of Veterinary Medicine here at WSU. When I am not in the lab working on testing proteins of micro-organisms for possible vaccine development, I enjoy watching soccer and spending time with my family. I am more than willing to help you settle in quickly on campus as much as possible.

Dini Arini

South Borneo, Indonesia


Hi, everyone! My name is Dini, and I am a Fulbrighter from South Borneo, Indonesia. I am so thrilled to welcome you to the Cougar family! This is my first year of PhD program in Language, Literacy and Technology, specifically in AI implementation in English language teaching. Currently, aside from being a graduate student, I am also volunteering at IALC in the Language Laboratory. I enjoy listening to music, watching movies, and doing some outdoor activities. Please reach out if you have any questions and to have fun activities in Pullman! Go Cougs!!

James Asare

Accra, Ghana


Hi everyone, welcome to the Coug family. I believe “some beautiful paths cannot be discovered without getting lost” – Erol Ozan. I come from Ghana and love to cook and write poetry when not busy with research as a graduate student. I like meeting new people and learning about different world cultures. The outdoors around here is fun to hike and let me know if there is anything I can do to help make your transition in Pullman smooth. Once again, welcome – akwaaba in Ghanaian language.

Oieswarya Bhowmik

Kolkata, India


Firstly, a warm welcome to all of you to our Cougar family. Hi!! My name is Oieswarya Bhowmik and this is my 2nd year acting as an international peer mentor. I am from Kolkata known as the “City of Joy” in India. I am a Ph.D. student in computer science, specializing in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. I am very much intrigued by how technology can help the health system be more efficient as, after all, algorithms are opinions embedded in code. When I am not studying, I love to spend my time listening to music and singing, and am guilty of sometimes indulging in binge watching. I am also a decent cook and love to try new recipes. Being an international student myself I am aware how overwhelming this transition can be but lo and behold, we all are here to help you out in any way we can to make this experience as smooth as possible for you.

Hector Botello

Bucaramanga, Colombia


Hello everyone! My fellow Cougs members! My name is Hector and I am from Colombia. I am a second year PhD student in Economics and Statistics. I know firsthand the difficulties of being an international student in a new cultural context but as a former mentee, I know how useful the program can be to get ahead. My hobbies are outdoor activities (hiking, camping, rafting, etc.) and sports like tennis, soccer, and many more. It is also fun to practice outdoor photography. At home, I enjoy cooking, playing video games, and watching old movies. I really enjoy learning about other cultures and sharing experiences. I hope you like your stay in Palouse.

Aurelia Cromwell

Chewelah, Washington, USA


Hi! I’m Aurelia, Ari for short, welcome to WSU. I am working on dual degrees in Mathematics and Environmental Sciences going into my fourthish year. I went to military then attended university then worked in a career of wildland fire and am now back to finish. When I am not in school I enjoy the outdoors, running, hanging out, playing video games, finding quite places in nature… I am happy to do lots of things. I also really enjoy group studying. I look forward to having awesome chats with you and answering any questions you have. I look forward to meeting and being helpful. Welcome to WSU, Go Cougs!

Deborah Fabiyi

Lagos, Nigeria


Hi! I’m Debbie (Deborah) you can call me any! I’m a first year PhD graduate student in Educational Psychology program, where I’m co-opted as a Research Assistant.
I love to motivate people in achieving their best, help in anyway I can to support, and ready always to share resources. I’m adventurous, independent, service-centered, and believe I try whatever new stuff I set my mind on. I love music (Classical, Gospel), cooking, traveling, and helping.

Gerard Holeman

Estes Park, Colorado, USA


Hi, my name is gerard Holeman I am 22 and a senior at WSU, I love working out and riding horses. I am currently an accounting and marketing major. I look forward to meeting you and please reach out any time my snap chat is Gerardholeman.

Angel Ikueze

Anambra State, Nigeria


I am Angel Ikueze. I am from Anambra State in Nigeria. I am currently in my freshman year at the WSU pullman campus. I am majoring in nursing. I love watching movies, listening to music, cooking, singing, and watching soccer sometimes.
I look forward to meeting you all and welcoming you to WSU. Go Cougs!”

Gajanan Kothawade

Maharashtra, India


Namaskar (Hello)! A way to greet each other in India…! Welcome to WSU! I’m an international student from Maharashtra, India, and a graduate student at the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, working in the field of Agricultural Automation and Engineering. Back in India, I was working in the Geospatial Data Science domain. Here on campus, I’m involved with the Agricultural Automation & Engineering Club. Apart from the technical aspect, I like to talk … If you want to talk, I’ll always be happy to connect. Also, a big fan of Indian classical music. Looking forward to meeting and helping you, Cougs!

Callie Kuykendall

Golden, Colorado, USA


Hello, my name is Callie Kuykendall. I am from Golden, Colorado, and I am currently working toward a major in sustainable agriculture and a minor in Spanish. This past semester, it has been great to meet people from different cultures and learn from their unique perspectives through the peer mentor program. I enjoy being involved on campus, and I am in currently in horticulture and Spanish club. I do many different things in my free time, but recently I have been into drawing, crochet, and practicing soccer. Feel free to reach out to me whenever, I would love to hear from you. Welcome to WSU!

Leslie Lemus

Grandview, Washington, USA


Hello and welcome to WSU! My name is Leslie Lemus I am a first-gen student studying Biology and Spanish on a Pre-Med track. I hope one day to become a surgeon and help those in need. I enjoy listening to music especially Bad Bunny, watching shows like Grey’s Anatomy, and eating tacos! I’m excited to get to meet new Cougs and help them transition into WSU.

Xuejiao Li

Dalien, China


Hi folks! Welcome to WSU! My name is Xuejiao, you can also call me Judy. I am from Dalian, which is a small coastal city in China. Currently, I am a graduate student majoring in Language, Literacy, and Technology. In the future, I will become a teacher and my teaching pet peeve is wanting students to have fun in class, becoming life-long learners. In addition to my study, I am interested in swimming, reading, painting, listening to music, dancing, playing video games, and cooking. I would like to help you at any time; feel free to reach out to me. Go Cougs!!!

Ali Maleki

Karaj, Iran


Hello everyone! Welcome to WSU. I am Ali, and I’m from Iran. Currently, I’m doing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering (my research area is on using renewable energy sources, so let’s save the world). I also got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, so I’m a little familiar with engineering topics. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors, hiking, meeting friends, watching movies, going to the gym, and swimming. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Hope to see you around.

Federico Mellani

Milan, Italy


Hello everyone, my name is Federico Mellani (don’t worry if you can’t spell it 100% the Italian way), I am a second-year international student studying at WSU for a degree in Basic Medical Sciences with the hope of, in the future, to go to medical school here in the United States. As a peer mentor, I am here to answer any questions that you might have in your academic life and not only. Plus as the Italian I am, I am always down to go get a coffee whenever you want :).

Quyen Nguyen

Da Lat, Vietnam


Dear Incoming Cougars, welcome to the WSU family! My name is Quyen Nguyen and I am an international student from Da Lat, a small but gorgeous city in Vietnam. I have just finished my first semester at WSU as a transfer student and I love everything about this community, so I hope you will too! Besides my huge passion for marketing, I also love to read or just stay at home and watch Korean movies. I am not a huge fan of outdoor activities, but I do love to go hiking or walking around when the weather is nice (spring in Pullman is stunning). As an international student, I deeply understand how hard it is for you to adapt to a new environment, but that is why we are here as peer mentors to be your companions on this journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions! Until next time, go Cougs!

Justice Nii-Ayitey

Accra, Ghana


Hello, Justice is from Ghana and a Statistical Science student with interest in categorical data, epidemiology, and survey techniques. He is more than happy to help make Pullman a place to live with all resources available. Come join the Cougar family!

Stephen Onayemi

Lagos, Nigeria


Hello friend! Welcome to WSU. I am glad to answer your questions and support you in your new transition to WSU. I am a graduate student in the Department of Entomology and working on pest management strategies to control grape mealybugs in wine grapes. I am based at WSU Washington State University-Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Prosser. I enjoy listening to music, traveling, and interacting with people. Feel free to contact me with any inquiries, and I look forward to meeting you.

Jorge Pires

Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina


Hello there! And welcome to WSU! My name is Jorge and I’m from Argentina. I’m doing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering because I love understanding how things work, and I also enjoy learning. When not working, I enjoy going outdoors for a hike (there’s plenty of nature to see in the Palouse). Practicing landscape photography is very relaxing! If I’m indoors, then you’ll probably find me watching a movie (sci-fi my favorites!), gaming a bit, or reading random Wikipedia pages. But it’s also fun to hang out with friends and meeting new people. I’m sure you’ll find WSU very welcoming! See you around!

Jana Katharina Richter

Warendorf, Germany


Welcome to WSU everyone! I am Jana from Germany doing my Ph.D. in Food Science here in Pullman. Coming from a relatively highly populated area in Germany, I am very aware of how hard the transition from your home country to Pullman can be, but I am sure you will have a great time! I love traveling, painting, outdoor activities – especially skiing and biking, and meeting friends. I am very excited to get to know you and make some unforgettable memories together!

Nithyashree Senguttuvan

Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India


Hey friends! I am Nithyashree, called by few as Shree. I am a first year Graduate – Master’s student in Computer Science. I have moved in from India to Pullman a few months back. I did my undergraduate in the field of Computer Science at SKCT, Coimbatore. I also have work experience for a year in AstraZeneca, Chennai. Other than the professional front, I am into Content Writing for Social Media posts and engagement. I love listening to music, watching movies and playing games. Always read to help, engage and grow from people around me.

Audrey Snedecor

Steilacoom, Washington, USA


Hello and welcome to WSU! My name is Audrey and I am a senior majoring in Animal Sciences on the pre-veterinary track. When I am not at home reading a book, watching movies, or cuddling with my cat, I enjoy taking long walks or going for a run around Pullman. I am also super passionate about music and play the piccolo in the Cougar Marching Band. Sharing new experiences and learning about different cultures is very important to me and I look forward to meeting you soon! Go Cougs! 🙂

Michael Sullivan

Seattle, Washington, USA


Hello! My name is Michael, I’m 20 years old and I’m from Seattle, Washington. I’ve studied abroad twice, once in high school in Rennes, France, and again in college in Seoul, South Korea. Both were amazing experiences! I’m proficient in French and love writing, movies, and music. At WSU I’ve made friends with students from all over the world, and I’m excited to work with international students and be an excellent resource.

Oluwafemi Sunday

Lagos, Nigeria


Welcome to the Cougar family! I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Psychology. My research focuses on multimedia instructional design, learning strategies, and STEM education. I love to provide an inclusive environment that promotes cognitive learning and students’ well-being. Besides my academic pursuit, I like to spend quality time with my cute family. I do music for fun and always listen to classical and country-side music – I love to sing. I am happy to meet with you, and it’s going to be fun to have you here in Pullman.

Johana Thomas Zapata

Tegucigalpa, Honduras


Hi everyone, welcome to WSU! My name is Johana Thomas Zapata. I am a Fulbright Scholar mathematics educator studying Math & Science Education (Ph.D. program). I am bilingual in English and Spanish :-). My roots are on the Caribbean coasts of Honduras, so I love the sun, warm weather, and outdoor activities – spring and summer are my favorite seasons. Being a peer mentor is something I am eager to do in order to support new WSU students on their transition to campus by learning about new resources and making the most of their college experience.

Karisma Yumnam

Manipur, India


Hi peeps! I am Karisma Yumnam pursuing a Ph.D. at Biological Systems Engineering. I am from Manipur, a valley surrounded by 9 mountain ranges, a small northeastern state in India. I live at the Prosser campus and am passionate about the emerging technologies in agriculture. I have diverse hobbies and interest. I love painting, watching movies, Korean dramas, coffee, and tennis among others. Happy to be a peer mentor!

Adriana Zaragoza

Los Angeles, California, USA


Hey ya’ll!
I am a first generation Latina student majoring in Animal Science on the Pre-Veterinary track in hopes to one day become a veterinarian. I love traveling and exploring the world and learning about different customs/cultures. I enjoy spending my time with family/friends and of course my pets, I love listening to music, watching shows/movies and I love eating!! I also spend my free time working with different animal species and learning about them in any way I can. I hope you all enjoy your time here in Pullman, if you have any questions, concerns or just need a friend to hang out with I am here to help!