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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.

Mark Zajac

International Services Specialist

Education: B.A. in Global Studies, German and Spanish from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.
Global know-how: Mark has studied abroad in both Germany and Spain and spent a year teaching English in Germany on a Fulbright grant.  He has traveled extensively in Europe and has also been to Canada, Morocco and Turkey.
Interests: In his spare time, Mark loves practicing languages, running, reading, and spending time with his friends and family.

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!

Elizabeth Hall

Coordinator of Study Abroad

Education: B.A. in East Asian Studies from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Global Know-How: As an undergrad, Elizabeth studied abroad at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Hikone, Japan. After college, she participated in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and spent two years teaching English at a high school in Nagasaki City. Elizabeth has also traveled to England, France, and Italy.

Interests: In her free time, Elizabeth loves baking, attending musical theater and ballet, and reading (especially historical nonfiction).

Student Assistants

Study Abroad

  • Charlotte Sauer
  • Chelsea Badiola

International Center

  • Jonathan Manard, Student Assistant
  • Ryan Siddall, Student Assistant
  • Vien Yadavongsy, Student Assistant
  • Haoyu Liao, Student Assistant
  • Nazia Habib, Student Assistant

For inquiries, please email the international center at