GPL 2021: Innovating Global Mentorship and Connection

You're invited to the first Global Peer and Leadership Conference (GPL), virtually, on Friday, April 16, 2021 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. This conference is free to all participants.

GPL is organized to allow globally minded student leaders the opportunity to engage with one another via presentations, discussion and social activities. Sessions are facilitated by student leaders from universities across the U.S. (Staff and faculty are also welcome to propose sessions geared toward our student audience.) GPL is about bringing together global student leaders and their advisors to learn, share and lead.

Who is a Global Peer?

  • Global Ambassadors
  • International Student Buddies
  • International Office Student Employees
  • Peer Advisors
  • Resident Assistants in Global LLCs

Undergraduate and graduate students who want to learn more about how to serve and be an ally to international or study abroad students are Global Peers. Students do not need to be serving in an official capacity to join this conference.

By attending the GPL Conference, students will:

  • Enhance their cultural competency including awareness, attitude, knowledge and skills.
  • Develop their understanding of advocacy within international education.
  • Learn best practices related to peer outreach and engagement, mentorship and advising, policy, leadership development and community building.

Registration has closed

GPL 2021: Conference Schedule

GPL is proud to announce this year's keynote speaker, Texas' own Diplomat in Residence, Ms. Kris Sivertson!

Download the Global Peer and Leadership Conference 2021 Session Brochure.

Conference Schedule
Time Event
8 - 8:30 a.m. Coffee Social and Institutional Check-ins
8:30 - 9 a.m. Welcome and Keynote Speaker
9 - 9:45 a.m. Session One Presentations
9:45 - 9:50 a.m. Break
9:50 - 10:35 a.m. Session Two Presentations
10:35 - 10:45 a.m.  Institutional Check-ins
10:45 - 11:15 a.m. Session Three Presentations
11:15 - 11:45 a.m. Session Four Interest Rooms
11:50 a.m. - 12 p.m. Closing Remarks
12 - 1 p.m. Advisor Only Gathering

Session One Presentations

Choosing a Career in Foreign Service

Explore global careers, internships, and student programs in the U.S. Foreign Service. Connect with the U.S. Department of State Diplomat in Residence for Texas Kris Sivertson to hear about 24 different career tracks, application processes and timelines for employment and internships. Begin changing the world today! Her session will be relevant to U.S. citizens.

Presenter Bio

Texas Diplomat in Residence, Ms. Kris Sivertson

What I Wish I Knew: Apps and Websites that Make Studying Abroad Easy

As an international student in the U.S. herself, Marian has experienced the struggles discussed in ‘What I Wish I Knew’. There are many shared challenges international students face when coming to a new country. Simple things such as transportation, budgeting, restaurants that address specific dietary restrictions, places of worship and local communities of their nationality can provide the support system students need to acclimate. This presentation will provide a list of applications and websites which help address these concerns. Participants will be encouraged to share applications that address the concerns they had or they think international students have upon coming to a new country.

Presenter Bio

Marian Mae Cedeno

University of the Incarnate Word Global Ambassador

Marian Mae Cedeno is a junior at the University of the Incarnate Word, majoring in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and Comparative Politics. She enjoys learning about politics at the global level because 'gone are the days when political scientists need only focus on domestics issues'. During her sophomore year, she was given the Star of the Future award by UIW's Political Science department for her academic performance and displayed commitment to the field. In the future, Marian wants to represent the under-served Filipino workers in the Middle East. As a pastime, she likes to discover new food places and go spontaneous grocery shopping at 10 p.m. with her roommate.

Mutual Mentoring: Promoting solidarity internationally and seeking to build healthier and more inclusive communities across borders in a virtual world

Faculty, staff and students at the University of the Incarnate Word dedicate themselves to global understanding and mutual mentorship. In this presentation, Sister Martha Ann Kirk and various students will lead a discussion on how they planned and facilitated past events with partners across the world. Learn how to build tangible, meaningful and culturally engaging relationships with people from other cultures virtually and how to maintain them. Presenters will also share their experiences in mutual mentorship, promoting solidarity internationally and seeking to build healthier and more inclusive communities across borders in a virtual world.

Presenter Bios

Sister Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI

University of the Incarnate Word Professor Emerita of Religious Studies

Session Two Presentations

World Affairs Council: Community Building and Mentorship

Presented by the World Affairs Councils of San Antonio and Houston

The World Affairs Council promotes internationally minded programs and educational initiatives in over 90 cities around the United States. The opportunities afforded to World Affairs members focus on community building, membership, global education and enable members to network with vital community figures in both local and global affairs. World Affairs Councils of San Antonio (WACOFSA) staff Samantha Skory and Isabella Cibelli Du Terroil will discuss WACOFSA’s emphasis on community building with initiatives such as Young Professionals, Academic World Quest, monthly panel discussions and nationwide cooperation. 

Additionally, Maryanne Maldonado will represent the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston and discuss how to OWN your power and how having a mentor can help you see your highest potential when it's hidden from view.

Presenter Bios

Samantha Skory

International Programs Coordinator
World Affairs Council of San Antonio

Originally from El Paso, Samantha Skory has been an invaluable San Antonian for the last eight years. After graduating with a psychology and a communication degree from Trinity University in 2016, she continued pursing her education and received her master’s degree from St. Mary’s University in International Relations in 2020. Through this field she has been working as an International Program coordinator with the World Affairs Council of San Antonio (WACOFSA).

Samantha is very interested in international politics, history and the Cold War. She is currently learning Russian so she can expand upon her research on Eastern Europe and its global impacts. Samantha enjoys traveling and is counting down the days until her next big adventure (once quarantine ends). She is also proud to be included as a 2021 New Leaders Council Fellow.

Isabella Cibelli Du Terroil

Academic WorldQuest Coordinator
World Affairs Council of San Antonio

Isabella Cibelli Du Terroil is a recent graduate of New College of Florida and from Sarasota, Florida. She is currently an intern for the World Affairs Council of San Antonio. While in college, Isabella majored in Middle Eastern Studies with a specific focus on Turkish social history and culture and was awarded a David L. Boren Scholarship for academic achievement in the field. She is currently applying to graduate programs for Middle Eastern Studies and exploring careers in global affairs. Isabella has found that through interning with the World Affairs Council of San Antonio she can best pursue her passion for keeping our local community internationally-minded and globally literate. 

Maryanne Maldonado

Chief Executive Officer
World Affairs Council of San Antonio

Maryanne Maldonado has earned her place among Houston’s Most Influential Women of 2018 in Houston Woman Magazine based on her success in executive leadership and her achievements in national and international relations. Chosen as Chief Operating Officer of the Year for her work with the Houston Technology Center by the Houston Business Journal, Maryanne now leads the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston as their Chief Executive Officer. Here she directs the vision and strategy of the Council in its efforts to maintain influence among business and intellectual leaders in Houston.

By successfully attracting a roster of the highest-profile international experts to Houston, Maryanne has established the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston as one of the largest and most active Councils in the United States. Under her leadership, the Council serves the Houston community by providing a platform for thought leadership with individuals at the cutting edge of contemporary world affairs, including luminaries that represent compelling issues of global importance including human trafficking, military history and leadership, domestic and world politics, refugee struggles, the new conservatism, the United States and its evolving role in the world, and the geopolitics of the energy industry.

As the Council’s CEO, Maryanne has also expanded the educational outreach programs of the Council, traveling to historic locations worldwide such as Israel, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Washington, D.C. These excursions have been enhanced by coordinated visits with executive government and industry leadership to gain a direct understanding of local issues from the leaders who create, understand and shepherd policy.

Maryanne also has executive oversight of the educational strategy for the Council, bringing greater global understanding to over 25 Houston area high schools and colleges and educating over 2,500 students. Such programs include local and global level trivia contests, as well as the Council’s flagship event, The Jesse H. Jones International Citizen of the Year Awards Luncheon. At this Luncheon, the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston honors an individual who – in the spirit of Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones – has contributed to the international success of Houston.

Growth has always been a guiding force for Maryanne, whose leadership style has led to a greater global, domestic and local outreach, and a rise in international programs in Houston. Having been recognized as a Who’s Who in Energy and a Houston Energy Leader, as well as a board member in several private and not for profit boards, Maryanne continues her passion to learn and lead by regularly speaking at events and conferences. Most importantly, she strives to instill in others a desire for growth, understanding and personal evolution.

Maryanne’s expertise in organizational transformation has led to the successful revitalization of the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston, and she remains driven to challenge others to achieve exceptional results. Maryanne has a Bachelor of Business Management and a Master of Business Education from LeTourneau University. She and her husband live in the Galleria area and together have four children and three beautiful grand girls. Maryanne enjoys reading, golfing and spending peaceful weekends at their lake home.

Unpacking the Study Abroad Experience

While there are many ways to conceptualize the importance of travel, Dr. Blanton focuses on how travel mediates encounters with others in ways that enable us to judge more justly. We will explore alternative means of travel to challenge the dominant paradigms of tourism and help develop critically conscious reflections on culture and politics of place, whether domestic or abroad. This presentation will deliver an interactive discussion that focuses on student study abroad experiences with strategies for how to unpack these experiences upon returning "home" to deepen connection and mentorship opportunities. Dr. Blanton hopes to inspire students to seek travel experiences as a lifestyle rather than just a summer in college.

Presenter Bio

Raymond Blanton, M.Div., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Communication Arts 

Raymond Blanton is Assistant Professor of Communication Arts in the School of Media and Design at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. His research is primarily concerned with the civic and religious dimensions of rhetoric, communication and media in intellectual history and American culture. His research includes published chapters on nostalgia, loyalty and leadership, American civil rights, online deception, public memory, race, indigenous identity in cinema, and millennial culture and pedagogy.

The Limitation and Advantages of Virtual Peer Mentorship

COVID-19 created an immediate and unprepared shift towards virtual life. This leaves little room for students trying to connect with their peers in a personal way. Student mentors are exploring uncharted territory in creating supportive and thoughtful environments for their peers, of which we will examine the limitations and advantages. 

Attendees will learn about the pros and cons that come with serving as mentors to peers via the virtual format that we are having to rely on during a global pandemic. As well, we’ll discuss different and innovative ways to connect with peers in a leadership role.

Presenter Bios

Tayma Machkhas

University of Houston Global Guide

Tayma Machkhas is a senior in the Honors College at the University of Houston. She is double majoring in Health and Anthropology, with a minor in Medicine and Society. Tayma is the Lead Global Guide for the UH Learning Abroad Office, and has been involved with learning abroad for over a year now. She studied abroad in Spring 2019 with the School for International Training (SIT), and participated in their Global Health and Development Policy program. Additionally, Tayma is a part-time program coordinator at Culture of Health - Advancing Together (CHAT), a non-profit organization. "Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of immigrants and refugees through education, arts, advocacy and access to care."

Madison Rendall

University of Houston Learning Abroad Graduate Assistant Student Advisor

Madison Rendall is a first year graduate student in the College of Education at the University of Houston where she is currently pursuing her master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Art Education. In 2018 while she was pursuing a master's degree in Art History from the University of Houston, Madison had the opportunity to attend a faculty-led learning abroad program to Mexico City to study Mexican art ranging from Pre-Hispanic to contemporary works.

Session Three Presentations

Passport to Your Career

This session will discuss the best ways to include your international experience in your job search. From many transferable skills gained during your experiences studying/interning/living abroad, to how to include your experience on your resume and during an interview, and ways to network with your unique experience in mind. Participants will leave this session with a visual example of education abroad experience on a resume as well as a list of common skills gained during an education abroad program. 

Presenter Bio

Maggie Mahoney

Maggie Mahoney is the Assistant Director of UH Learning Abroad, leading the office in strategic planning, oversight, risk management, and program development. She joined the Learning Abroad team in 2015 as a Learning Abroad Advisor and has advised the UH Global Guides since their creation in 2016. She holds a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts in French with a minor in Spanish from Centenary College of Louisiana.

Mexico: Perspectives of a woman in a modern and macho environment

Having had the experience of being a Mexican woman studying abroad in Texas, Anaeli shares her cultural knowledge of the societal expectations of women’s education in Mexico. Themes such as looking to study abroad, work or live in Mexico will be covered. Are you mentoring Mexican students or are interested in advocacy in international education? This session is for you! By teaching about our traditions and cultural perspective we share a knowledge that comes from generations of women.    

Presenter Bios

Anaeli Alvarez

University of the Incarnate Word Global Student Ambassador

Anaeli Alvarez is a senior Nutrition major at the University of the Incarnate Word-Mexico City. During her exchange at UIW's San Antonio campus she gained a whole new perspective of women's role in a college environment. As a woman living in Mexico City, she's been a witness to women's role in Mexico and the evolution throughout the years.

Alejandra Lizárraga

Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics

Alejandra Lizárraga obtained her master's degree in Human Development and Food Security from the Universityà degli studi Roma Tre, and her bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics by the EDN ISSSTE. She has been working for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations with traditional food systems and empowerment of indigenous women. Additionally, she has ten years of experience in the private clinical assessments, giving workshops and talks about nutrition to the public and private sector.

International Student Experience Panel

UIW Global Ambassador, Anas Zakir, hosts two former beneficiaries of the Global Ambassador program at UIW to discuss their international experience with the goal of inspiring other global peers to make the most of their experience. Attendees will learn the importance of leadership and communication skills for personal growth.

Presenter Bio

Anas Zakir

University of the Incarnate Word Global Student Ambassador

Anas Zakir is a junior international student majoring in Business Marketing at the University of the Incarnate Word. Anas uses his positive attitude to encourage fellow international students to make the most of their international experience.

Session Four Interest Rooms

Interest rooms in the following categories will be facilitated as Round Tables by the conference team.

  • Diversity Abroad
  • Global Ambassador Marketing and Outreach
  • Career Networking
  • International Student Experience
  • Peer Mentor Self Care (Maggie)

Meet the 2021 Conference Team!

Brooke Paynter

Study Abroad and Exchange Coordinator
GPL Conference Host

Brooke Paynter, a Minneapolis native, completed her undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in Social Studies for Secondary Education. After earning her Wisconsin teaching license, she went to work in Hangzhou, China, for a UIW system study abroad program titled Experience China! Falling in love with the city that semester, she decided to stay and work at the host institution, Zhejiang International Studies University (ZISU), as a teacher of Spoken English and American History and Culture. While working in China, Brooke earned her M.A. in International Studies with a focus on Education in China and research on LGBTQ+ resources in Chinese higher education.

During the summers, Brooke led faculty-led programs to the U.S. As lead faculty, Brooke was able to co-author the textbook utilized at ZISU today for American culture courses, Traveling Classroom-U.S.A. Brooke also earned the Foreign Affairs Division of Zhejiang Provincial Department of Education’s Certificate of Honor for teaching in 2017. Moving back to the U.S. in 2018, Brooke worked in Residence Life at the University of North Dakota, earning the Outstanding Service to UND and Outstanding Service to Students awards.

Since starting at UIW in the summer of 2019, Brooke loves sharing about the importance of education abroad and her experience as a first-generation student; something she and many UIW students have in common!


Danielle Vogel

International Student Advisor
GPL Conference Facilitation

Danielle Vogel, MS, is the International Student Adviser at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. She is responsible for advising F-1 students, planning a multitude of cultural activities and workshops, and working on special projects for her office. Danielle started in the international education field in 2017, having worked as a graduate assistant at her alma mater, before moving south to transition to her new role at UIW. She received her bachelor’s degree in international business and her master’s degree in college student personnel administration, both from Illinois State University. She recently completed her year in the NAFSA Academy for International Education where she has focused on developing her international education proficiencies, and creating campus internationalization and international student advising strategies.


Maggie Mahoney

Assistant Director of UH Learning Abroad
GPL Conference Facilitation

Maggie is the Assistant Director of UH Learning Abroad, leading the office in strategic planning, oversight, risk management and program development. She joined the Learning Abroad team in 2015 as a Learning Abroad Advisor and has advised the UH Global Guides since their creation in 2016. She holds a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts in French with a minor in Spanish from Centenary College of Louisiana.


Chris Gray

Study Abroad Advisor
GPL Conference Facilitation

Chris Gray has served as a study abroad advisor at Rice University since March 2017. Chris earned a B.A. in Political Science from Rice University in 2012. Chris studied abroad in Japan, and served as a Study Abroad Ambassador during his senior year. After graduation, Chris taught English in Japan with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, later returning to the U.S. to serve as program coordinator with the JET Program Office at the Embassy of Japan in the United States. Originally from northern Virginia, Chris has also lived in Canada, Egypt and Tunisia.


Malin Hilmersson

Study Abroad Advisor
GPL Conference Facilitation

Malin Hilmersson works as the Study Abroad Coordinator in the Office of International Programs at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville, Texas, where she also graduated from with an M.A. in Higher Education Administration. She has worked in the field of higher education for over ten years in different capacities and for institutions in Sweden, Australia and the United States. In her role at SHSU, Malin overseas all study abroad programs at SHSU, advises students, and assists faculty manage study abroad programs.


Caleb Chapman

Communications Coordinator
GPL Conference Facilitation

Caleb is new to Education Abroad, but has worked in higher education since 2009. He assists with coordinating outreach efforts that include presentations and speaking engagements, events, social media, departmental communication and various print and digital publications at Texas A&M University. Caleb also advises the Education Abroad Ambassadors – a group of students passionate about and dedicated to getting more Aggies to participate in study abroad programs.

Prior to coming to Texas A&M, Caleb worked for the Division of Student Affairs at Tarleton State University where he served as director of multiple programs such as marketing and communications, student media, and leadership and service programs. He obtained a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Marketing from Tarleton and a Master of Arts in College Student Development from St. Edward’s University in Austin.

Caleb is a Texas native and enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with his wife and two dogs.