About

International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) Staff

image of Director, Dr. Michael ElliottMichael Elliott
Director, ISSS

As Director of ISSS (International Student and Scholar Services), Michael Elliott brings almost 30 years of experience in the field of international education. His areas of interest and research include international student and scholar success, leadership development, and strengths-based education.

Michael earned his PhD in leadership studies and his master’s degrees in both international studies and education. He is also a lecturer in the departments of Educational Policy and Leadership, Globalization Studies, and Undergraduate Studies. Michael presents at NAFSA conferences, co-authored "From Departing to Achieving: Keys to Success for International Students in U.S. Colleges and Universities," was a Fulbright Scholar-Administrator Japan award recipient, and taught high school biology/physics in Peace Corps Kenya.


image of Associate Director Tara EvansTara Evans
Associate Director, ISSS

Tara has been in the field of international education for 14 years. She earned her B.A. in Business from Life University in Marietta, Georgia. Tara earned her M.A. in Human Resource Management from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Tara’s area of interest is campus internationalization.

Tara oversees new international student orientation and is responsible for our J-1 scholar community. She is a member of NAFSA and a graduate of the NAFSA Academy (Class 10). Tara is also a member of the Residency Appeals Committee. She serves as the Liaison for Community Standards and Academic Advising.


image of Kayla O'DonnellKayla O’Donnell
Assistant Director, ISSS

Kayla O’Donnell joined the University at Albany as an International Student Coordinator in August 2016 and transitioned to the Assistant Director role in 2023. Kayla earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Global Studies from Binghamton University, SUNY (2013) and a master’s degree in the Humanities from the University of Chicago (2014). Prior to joining UAlbany, she worked in the Dean of Students Office and International Services office at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.


Sihwa Choi
International Student and Scholar Coordinator, ISSS

Sihwa Choi joined the University at Albany as an Administrative Assistant at the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office in 2019. She transitioned to the Administrative Manager in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Environmental & Sustainable Engineering at the College of Nanotechnology, Sciences, and Engineering until joining ISSS. Sihwa earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication with a concentration in Interpersonal Communication from SUNY Geneseo, and a master’s degree in TESOL from the University at Albany. Prior to joining UAlbany, she worked in the Korea Central Daily, Inc. in New York, NY.