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The Team

For inquiries, please email the international center at

Amy Benck

Contact for F-1/J-1 students
H-1B/J-1 Scholars

Education: Master's degree in higher education administration from Loyola University Chicago
Global know-how: Amy has always been interested in traveling but became passionate about international education after studying abroad and working in Scotland.
Interests: When she is not dreaming about her next traveling adventure, Amy likes to explore Chicago, make jewelry, and spend time with her friends and family. 

Kara Johnson

Assistant Director, International Student and Scholar Services
Contact for F-1/J-1 students, J-1 Scholars, and H-1B

Education: Master’s degree in intercultural relations from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Global know-how: Kara has studied and/or worked abroad in Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.
Interests: As a new Chicago resident, she spends most of her time exploring the city, trying new restaurants, and learning her way around. Kara loves to travel, learn new languages, and experience other cultures.

Karen Spreitzer

International Student Advisor
Contact for F-1/J-1 students

Education: B.S. in Anthropology from Loyola University Chicago
Global know-how: Karen worked as an archaeologist throughout the Midwest and western U.S. regions for 10 years, and spent
several months traveling in Europe. She developed an interest in international services when she advised graduate students from all over the world as the physics graduate program advisor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Interests: When not working, Karen enjoys writing, walking, biking, playing guitar, and singing. She finished writing her first novel in 2007.

Tanya C. DePass

International Student Advisor/SEVIS Coordinator
Contact for F-1/J-1 students

Safe-Space Certified for LGBTQ Student Issues

Education: B.S. in Human Computer Interaction from DePaul University.
Global know-how: Tanya became interested in international education after studying abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan, and loved it so much she extended a semester abroad into one year! She’s also traveled to Panama, Canada, and Ecuador. Previously, she worked in the International Programs Office at DePaul University.
Interests: In her spare time Tanya knits, games, reads science fiction and fantasy, and hangs out with her brown and black tabby, Genki, in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood.

Katie Stephens

International Student Advisor

Education: Originally from Michigan, Katie came to Chicago in 2012 to pursue her master’s degree in higher education from Loyola University Chicago.
Global know-how: She became interested in working in international education after her year-long study abroad experience in Cordoba, Argentina, and short-term study trips to Poland, Costa Rica, Suriname, and Italy.
Interests: Outside of the office Katie tries to keep up with her Spanish, and loves running, reading, and working on her culinary skills.

Brianna Jones

International Student Advisor

Education: B.S. in Political Science from the University of Illinois, and graduate certificates in international relations from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and French language and culture from McGill University

Global know-how: Brianna has always had an interest in all things "international," leading her to focus on international relations during her undergraduate studies. She has since decided to make a career in international education after studying and living abroad in Austria, Canada, and Germany. Brianna has also traveled to Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Ghana, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Poland.

Interests: Brianna enjoys cooking, practicing French, and planning her next travel adventure!

Kathleen McDonald

Graduate Intern


Student Assistants

Chelsea Badiola

Study Abroad Student Assistant

Education: Chelsea enrolled in Illinois Tech in fall 2012 and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Interests: She plays volleyball and lacrosse for the Scarlet Hawks, is in a sorority, and dreams of joining the Peace Corps after graduation.

Vishak Chandra

Student Assistant

Education: Vishak enrolled in IIT in fall 2013. He is pursuing an M.S. in Chemical Engineering and hopes to attain a Ph.D. The boom of shale gas—Vishak's current area of researchbrought him to the United States.
Interests: He loves writing and blogging about sports for leisure. Vishak is passionate about social service work and has been involved in Rotary International for the past four years.

Nazia Habib

Student Assistant

Education: Nazia enrolled in IIT in spring 2014 and is pursuing an M.S. in Molecular Biology.
Interests: Apart from enjoying her stay in the U.S. and learning the new culture, Nazia loves to travel, read, and bake. Her friends say that while she is a good friend, she is a great cook! Nazia believes in a never-say-die attitude.

For inquiries, please email the international center at