Friday marked the last day for International Student Advisor Jenifer Hasenfus.
After four years of working at the College, Hasenfus will start a new chapter of her life as a Field Representative for Homeland Security. Before joining the Williams community, Hasenfus was the principal designated school official and international student advisor at Norwich University. She also worked at a mutual fund company in Boston earlier in her career.
Hasenfus first started working at the College as a part-time employee in the Dean’s Office. For two years she was an adjunct admission reader and a controller. She spent the next two years as the College’s international student advisor.
During her time at the College, Hasenfus has spearheaded several successful initiatives. Within her first four months, Hasenfus helped the Dean’s Office institute curricular practical training into the College’s curriculum. This granted international students temporary employment authorization. At the time, international students were prohibited to work during the summer or after graduation. According to Hasenfus, this change was hugely beneficial for international students because “it gave them a lot more opportunities to practice their learning.” International students could now also gain work experience in their respective fields of interest and learn more about what it is like to work in the United States.
In recent years, Hasenfus has also helped develop the student-run international student orientation. Unlike prior years, international student orientation now consists of three weeks on the GLOW website followed by a three-day on-campus orientation. During those three weeks, students view a series of videos and slideshow presentations on different aspects of studying in the United States such as classroom expectations and the differences between free speech and hate speech.
“If the students were just here for on-campus orientation and this might be their first all-English environment, you’re not really able to absorb all of that. But if you’re on GLOW you can watch it as many times as you want,” Hasenfus said.
Hasenfus’ accomplishments at the College also include working alongside the Career Center and Human Resources to create new policies that help international students find employment. She was also involved with Advocacy Day and the establishment of a communal kitchen for international students during winter break.
While Hasenfus is excited to kick off her new job, she mentioned that she will most miss the students with whom she has worked. Although she will no longer be at the College, she looks forward to the “new tradition” of international students making their presence known on campus and hopes to remain in contact with many of her advisees.
“Jenifer Hasenfus has remarkable expertise in all matters central to the well being of international students: visas, work after college, staying in status and who to call when there is an insurmountable problem,” Laura McKeon, associate dean and dean of international education, said. “But on top of this, she is a deeply caring person, unbelievably generous with her time, who has been able to see our international students through all the personal and cross-cultural difficulties of attending college in the United States, and of course I am talking abut Williams College in particular. She has been a gift to our community and we will miss her very much.”
“As my advisor, she was my go-to person for any questions I had,” Zawwad Maan ’19, a former advisee of Hasenfus said. “She’s one of the most helpful and sweetest people I have encountered on campus.”
Steve Klass, vice president for campus life, said that Hasenfus leaves “pretty huge shoes to fill.”
As of now, the College has not found a replacement. In the meantime, Senior Associate Dean of the College Rachel Bukanc, as well as some international students, will step up to fill Hasenfus’ role.