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OISS Advising Team

Schedule an Appointment

Select your interest below to find out more information about your advisor and how to make an appointment.


Students

Students on F-1 and J-1 visas are assigned to a specific OISS advisor. In order to evenly spread-out advising caseloads, we have assigned students to an advisor based on the student's birth month.

For example: If you were born in December, you will click the December tab below to see the advisor you will be working with. 

While students are assigned a specific advisor, if at any point a student wishes to meet with another staff member in OISS they are able to do so by contacting that staff member directly.

January

IMG_20170313_144509_Christine Bilfinger.jpgChristine Bilfinger

Email: bilfinge(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Christine through Calendly.

Christine Bilfinger is an International Student Advisor at OISS, serving primarily the F-1 student population. Christine is a native of New York state and completed her Bachelors and Masters degrees at SUNY Stony Brook University, where she also worked in admissions, study abroad, and as an international student advisor. Due to her background, she loves working with students in transition -- whether it be students who are new to MSU, exploring their major, or researching graduate school, she wants to help. Christine loves spending time outside. If you are looking for a great place to take a long walk, let her know!

February

IMG_20170313_144509_Christine Bilfinger.jpgChristine Bilfinger

Email: bilfinge(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Christine through Calendly.

Christine Bilfinger is an International Student Advisor at OISS, serving primarily the F-1 student population. Christine is a native of New York state and completed her Bachelors and Masters degrees at SUNY Stony Brook University, where she also worked in admissions, study abroad, and as an international student advisor. Due to her background, she loves working with students in transition -- whether it be students who are new to MSU, exploring their major, or researching graduate school, she wants to help. Christine loves spending time outside. If you are looking for a great place to take a long walk, let her know!

March

headshot_Bryce Carlton.jpgCindy Walter

Email: walterc2(at)msu.edu 
Make an appointment with Cindy through Calendly.

Cindy is an international student and scholar advisor at OISS with a particular focus on J-1 students and scholars. She also provides support to F-1 students. Cindy has worked at MSU since 2004 as an undergraduate academic advisor until she joined OISS in early 2022.

Cindy attended Western Michigan University and earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish and Communications. She also earned a master’s degree at MSU in student affairs. Cindy studied abroad for a semester in Spain and has traveled to Europe, Asia, and Mexico. Active with the International Friendship Program (IFP) for several years, Cindy and her family have hosted international students from many different countries. 

Cindy enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking and is an avid fiction reader. She is a native of Michigan and loves to share travel advice for exploring this beautiful state.

April

headshot_Bryce Carlton.jpgBryce Carlton

Email: carlto35(at)msu.edu 
Make an appointment with Bryce through Calendly.

Bryce joined the OISS team in 2019 and enjoys his role as an advisor, serving both F-1 and J-1 students as well as J-1 scholars.. Bryce obtained his Masters degree from Grand Valley State University where he completed a graduate assistantship at the Writing Center, working with international students to perfect their writing craft. He feels fortunate to have the world at his fingertips each day at MSU as he meets students and scholars from all over the globe, a Spartan perk even greater than the Dairy Store.

May

WIN_20210526_16_13_54_Pro (3).jpgTahmina Maralbaeva

Email: maralbae(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Tahmina through Calendly.

Tahmina Maralbaeva is an International Student and Scholar Advisor who works with J-1 Scholars, as well as F-1 and J-1 students. She has over 5 years of experience working as an OISS advisor at MSU. Originally, Tahmina is from Kyrgyzstan and was on a student visa herself while obtaining her Master's degree in Public Administration at Grand Valley State University. She lives with her husband and two children in East Lansing. She likes reading books with her children and discovering new hobbies and interests. Her latest interest has been to master blini making skills (Russian crepes). Her longtime hobby is traveling, and in 2021 their family traveled in the camper for four months and stayed in states like Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Arizona. It was a fun journey, during which she discovered that the best place to live and raise children is East Lansing, Michigan.

June

Jessie Keaton Profile PcitureJessie Keaton 

Email: keatonje(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Jessie through Calendly.

Jessie joined OISS in December 2019. She attended Western Michigan University where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Global and International Studies. Jessie discovered her passion for International Education while working in WMU's English as a Second Language department. Having grown up in the Lansing area, Jessie has always been a big MSU fan, and loves that she gets to continue supporting, and advocating for, the international student and scholar community here at MSU. Jessie loves coffee, painting and fishing on Lake Michigan in the summertime.

July

Facetune_27-06-2019-12-05-04 (1)_Leydi Egan.JPGLeydi Egan 

Email: leydi(at)msu.edu 
Make an appointment with Leydi through Calendly.

Leydi Egan is an International Student & Scholar Advisor with OISS. She works directly with MSU departments and the submission of new J-1 Scholars and Student applications. She also provides immigration advice on how to maintain immigration status and compliance for F-1 & J-1 Students & Scholars.  

Leydi is from Merida, Mexico and has a B.A. in Human resources and M.A. in Higher Education from MSU. She has worked at OISS for three years but lived in Michigan for over 15 years. Her goal is to not only support new Spartans in navigating the immigration rules in the U.S., but to also make them feel welcome and heard.  

Outside of work, Leydi enjoys practicing yoga and running. Once the pandemic is over, she would like to travel more to other countries to get to know other customs and cultures. She has traveled to Scotland, London, Panama, as well as leading education abroad programs in Mexico and Spain.

August

Facetune_27-06-2019-12-05-04 (1)_Leydi Egan.JPGLeydi Egan 

Email: leydi(at)msu.edu 
Make an appointment with Leydi through Calendly.

Leydi Egan is an International Student & Scholar Advisor with OISS. She works directly with MSU departments and the submission of new J-1 Scholars and Student applications. She also provides immigration advice on how to maintain immigration status and compliance for F-1 & J-1 Students & Scholars.  

Leydi is from Merida, Mexico and has a B.A. in Human resources and M.A. in Higher Education from MSU. She has worked at OISS for three years but lived in Michigan for over 15 years. Her goal is to not only support new Spartans in navigating the immigration rules in the U.S., but to also make them feel welcome and heard.  

Outside of work, Leydi enjoys practicing yoga and running. Once the pandemic is over, she would like to travel more to other countries to get to know other customs and cultures. She has traveled to Scotland, London, Panama, as well as leading education abroad programs in Mexico and Spain.

September

WIN_20210526_16_13_54_Pro (3).jpg

Tahmina Maralbaeva

Email: maralbae(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Tahmina through Calendly.

Tahmina Maralbaeva is an International Student and Scholar Advisor who works with J-1 Scholars, as well as F-1 and J-1 students. She has over 5 years of experience working as an OISS advisor at MSU. Originally, Tahmina is from Kyrgyzstan and was on a student visa herself while obtaining her Master's degree in Public Administration at Grand Valley State University. She lives with her husband and two children in East Lansing. She likes reading books with her children and discovering new hobbies and interests. Her latest interest has been to master blini making skills (Russian crepes). Her longtime hobby is traveling, and in 2021 their family traveled in the camper for four months and stayed in states like Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Arizona. It was a fun journey, during which she discovered that the best place to live and raise children is East Lansing, Michigan.

October

Leyla FieldLeyla Field

Email: fieldley(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Leyla through Calendly.

Leyla is an International Student/Scholar Intake Advisor at OISS.   Leyla was born and raised in Sub-Saharan Africa, came to the US on a J-1 visa and was an F-1 student for her higher education in Michigan.  She has a B.A. in Business Administration, majoring in Finance, and a M.S. in International Business from Walsh College.   

Dedicated to a life-long learning philosophy, Leyla has over a decade of professional experience in various areas of US higher education with a passion for international education.   Her own international experiences remind her of the challenges that MSU international students and scholars may face.  Knowing the importance of having a welcoming resource to seek guidance from, Leyla looks forward to guiding our Spartan students and scholars understand the immigration rules to be successful in their F-and J-journey. 

Leyla enjoys travelling to places with warm climates and loves Michigan’s warmer weather.  She encourages others to experience the joys that Michigan culture, climate and friends have to offer.  Leyla also enjoys the challenge of playing board-games and food - talking about food, trying new foods, cooking food, with eating food being her favorite! 

 

 

November

Bristol Photo_Bristol Day.jpgBristol Day

Email: daybrist(at)msu.edu 
Make an appointment with Bristol through Calendly.

Bristol is an international student advisor here in OISS who works primarily with F-1 international students. She is originally from Detroit and is the first in her family to have attended college. She attended Kalamazoo College for her bachelor's degree in sociology and anthropology and then graduated from the College of Education here at Michigan State University for her master's in student affairs. She loves living here in Lansing/East Lansing and has lots of suggestions on fun things to do around town.  

December

Bristol Photo_Bristol Day.jpgBristol Day

Email: daybrist(at)msu.edu 
Make an appointment with Bristol through Calendly.

Bristol is an international student advisor here in OISS who works primarily with F-1 international students. She is originally from Detroit and is the first in her family to have attended college. She attended Kalamazoo College for her bachelor's degree in sociology and anthropology and then graduated from the College of Education here at Michigan State University for her master's in student affairs. She loves living here in Lansing/East Lansing and has lots of suggestions on fun things to do around town.  

Scholars

Facetune_27-06-2019-12-05-04 (1)_Leydi Egan.JPGLeydi Egan 

Email: leydi(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Leydi through Calendly.

Leydi Egan is an International Student & Scholar Advisor with OISS. She works directly with MSU departments and the submission of new J-1 Scholars and Student applications. She also provides immigration advice on how to maintain immigration status and compliance for F-1 & J-1 Students & Scholars.  

Leydi is from Merida, Mexico and has a B.A. in Human resources and M.A. in Higher Education from MSU. She has worked at OISS for three years but lived in Michigan for over 15 years. Her goal is to not only support new Spartans in navigating the immigration rules in the U.S., but to also make them feel welcome and heard.  

Outside of work, Leydi enjoys practicing yoga and running. Once the pandemic is over, she would like to travel more to other countries to get to know other customs and cultures. She has traveled to Scotland, London, Panama, as well as leading education abroad programs in Mexico and Spain.


WIN_20210526_16_13_54_Pro (3).jpgTahmina Maralbaeva

Email: maralbae(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Tahmina through Calendly.

Tahmina Maralbaeva is an International Student and Scholar Advisor who works with J-1 Scholars, as well as F-1 and J-1 students. She has over 5 years of experience working as an OISS advisor at MSU. Originally, Tahmina is from Kyrgyzstan and was on a student visa herself while obtaining her Master's degree in Public Administration at Grand Valley State University. She lives with her husband and two children in East Lansing. She likes reading books with her children and discovering new hobbies and interests. Her latest interest has been to master blini making skills (Russian crepes). Her longtime hobby is traveling, and in 2021 their family traveled in the camper for four months and stayed in states like Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Arizona. It was a fun journey, during which she discovered that the best place to live and raise children is East Lansing, Michigan.


Cindy

Cindy Walter

Email: walterc2(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Cindy through Calendly.

Cindy is an international student and scholar advisor at OISS with a particular focus on J-1 students and scholars. She also provides support to F-1 students. Cindy has worked at MSU since 2004 as an undergraduate academic advisor until she joined OISS in early 2022.

Cindy attended Western Michigan University and earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish and Communications. She also earned a master’s degree at MSU in student affairs. Cindy studied abroad for a semester in Spain and has traveled to Europe, Asia, and Mexico. Active with the International Friendship Program (IFP) for several years, Cindy and her family have hosted international students from many different countries. 

Cindy enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking and is an avid fiction reader. She is a native of Michigan and loves to share travel advice for exploring this beautiful state.


headshot_Bryce Carlton.jpgBryce Carlton

Email: carlto35(at)msu.edu  
Make an appointment with Bryce through Calendly.

Bryce joined the OISS team in 2019 and enjoys his role as an advisor, serving both F-1 and J-1 students as well as J-1 scholars.. Bryce obtained his Masters degree from Grand Valley State University where he completed a graduate assistantship at the Writing Center, working with international students to perfect their writing craft. He feels fortunate to have the world at his fingertips each day at MSU as he meets students and scholars from all over the globe, a Spartan perk even greater than the Dairy Store.

U.S. Health Care and Insurance

The health care system in the United States is complex, and as a student or scholar at MSU, you are required to have health insurance. Learn how to use your health insurance so you can get the medical care you need.OISS provides general health insurance assistance with the following:  

  • Understanding your health insurance plan 
  • Finding out where to get medical treatment 
  • Understanding your medical bills 
  • Getting insurance for your spouse or child 

General questions related to U.S. Health Care and Insurance can be sent to ihealth(at)msu.edu.


Meet Our Community Health Intern

 

ELISE.jpgElise Simerson

Email: ihealth(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment through Calendly.

Elise Simerson is the Community Health Intern for OISS. She is in the first year of her Master of Social Work program. Elise grew up in northern Michigan and completed her undergraduate studies in history and psychology at Michigan State. She is passionate about promoting healthcare access and advocating for health equity with an interest in mental health concerns. Elise can assist with health insurance-related questions and concerns as well as connecting students with health resources in the area. In her spare time, Elise enjoys crossword puzzles and hiking with her deaf cattle dog.

Advocacy and Outreach Team

The OISS Student Advocacy and Outreach Team works to assist students who face challenges during their studies, whether related to academics, finances, health, or overall well-being. We are available to guide students as they seek resources either on or off-campus to meet their unique needs. For general questions, please contact oisshelp(at)msu.edu


Scheduling an Appointment with the OISS Advocacy Team

In scheduling an appointment, you will have the opportunity to meet with a member of the Advocacy and Outreach team to address concerns related to academics, finances, overall well-being, or adjustment to MSU. If you have questions about an immigration-related matter, please contact your OISS F-1 or J-1 advisor. 

During the meeting, we will discuss how you are doing and work to get you connected to appropriate resources on campus or in the community. If your concerns require follow-up, we will work together to schedule another time to connect.


Meet the OISS Advocacy & Outreach Team! 

pic_Jessica Scott-Nehls.jpgJessica Scott-Nehls

Email: scottj46(at)msu.edu
Make an appointment with Jess through Calendly.

My name is Jess and I am the Student Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator. I have my Master’s in Social Work and Bachelor’s in Spanish and International Studies. Whether you are new to MSU or preparing to complete your degree, unexpected challenges can arise during your studies and we are here to help you navigate those and find resources to help. In your academic journey at MSU, we are a part of your support team, so please reach out with any questions, concerns you face, or if you just want to say hi. I speak English and Spanish and look forward to meeting you!

Jess’s Wellness Tip:

When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I like to take 15 minutes to get outside regardless of the weather. I purposefully leave my phone inside so I am not distracted and can focus on the current moment. Whether I’m just sitting or taking a short walk, taking this break outdoors helps me clear my head, disconnect from my stressors, and appreciate my environment.


WhatsApp Image 2021-09-17 at 12.50.15 PM.jpeg

Uswa Memon

Email: oisshelp(at)msu.edu

Make an appointment with Uswa through Calendly. 

My name is Uswa, and I am a graduate student from Pakistan at MSU, studying Social Work.  I have previously worked in social work programs that focused on education and nutrition. Being an international student myself, I resonate with some of the daily challenges of adjusting to a new country. I am happy to assist during your time at MSU by providing you with resources catered to your specific needs, both on-campus and off-campus. I am fluent in Urdu and Hindi. I look forward to building more connections within the MSU community. Feel free to reach out to me via email or zoom."

Employees & H-1B

Tuyilingire.Neringa.4287.jpg

Neringa Tuyilingire 
Email: neringa(at)msu.edu 
Make an appointment with Neringa through Calendly.

Neringa Tuyilingire is an International Student and Scholar Advisor with OISS. Neringa joined OISS team in 2009. She works directly with MSU departments and employees on H-1B/TN/E-3 visas. Neringa was born and raised in Lithuania and came to the U.S. in 1999 to pursue a college education. She obtained her Bachelors and Masters degrees from Michigan State University. Neringa has traveled to several European countries during her undergraduate studies, and studied abroad in Brussels, Belgium.  Her hobbies are traveling, yoga, and crocheting.


NewestPic_Shams Vahedi.jpgShams Vahedi
Email: vahedis1(at)msu.edu 
Make an appointment with Shams through Calendly.

Shams Vahedi is an immigration specialist working closely with faculty and staff on H-1B and J-1 visas. Shams is originally from Iran and came to the US as an international student to attend MSU College of Law. After graduating from MSU College of Law, he joined MSU OISS as a full-time international student and scholar advisor providing advice on US immigration matters. Given his personal experience as an international student and his educational background in legal studies, he has a uniquely intimate knowledge of the U.S. Immigration process for international staff and faculty. He provides advising sessions in English and in Farsi.