Global Spotlight: Sarimer Valedon

Luna at the Ayutthaya Ruins in Thailand.

Luna at the Ayutthaya Ruins in Thailand.

Each term, the College of Arts & Sciences highlights one of its Global MA students from the International Relations program.

Sarimer Valedon-Morciglio, who goes by Luna, is originally from Yauco, Puerto Rico. She obtained her BA in International Public Relations and a minor in Foreign Languages from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico where she helped raise funds for the Fukushima Earthquake. She lived in South Korea’s countryside for half a year as an English teacher to orphaned children. She has also worked with her city’s mayor, now Senator, and traveled with him as his assistant and translator. Some of her favorite hobbies include reading and writing. Several of her goals in life are to become a published author, an advocate for women’s rights, and a motivational speaker for children with disabilities such as herself. We caught up with Luna as she’s preparing for her next stop in her global travels.

What is your current city, and what’s your next stop?

I am currently in Bangkok, Thailand and my next stop will be Geneva, Switzerland (it’s going to be cold!!!!).

Why did you choose Webster’s Global MA program?

From the moment the Global MA program was introduced to me, I knew it was perfect for me. I liked the idea of being able to enhance my knowledge and get a degree while traveling constantly. International Relations in a classroom is alright, but in this program you are constantly engaged in another language, in another culture, with people completely different to you. I thought that the best way of studying IR was like this — in an international environment. You are learning inside and outside the classroom, and I am a firm believer that the best classroom is the world itself.

Meeting with refugee children in Thailand

Meeting with refugee children in Thailand

Describe a memorable cultural experience that you’ve had after a semester of the program.

I’ve had many experiences during this past semester, all which are memorable and important for me. If I had to pick one though, it would be visiting the refugee camp in Northern Thailand because it changed my perceptions of international relations and me as a human being. The time spent with the Karen (an ethnic group native to Burma) is irreplaceable. These were kind people that welcomed us with open arms — people who have nothing but gave us everything. There was no distinction of ethnicity and even though we couldn’t speak the same language there was a connection in each smile. We visited a couple of schools, colleges, and the hospital, and had the most meaningful conversation with a group stateless children. Life-changing.

What are some challenges that you have faced when trying to adapt to new cultures?

The biggest challenge is leaving the culture. I spend roughly two months in a country; I learn the streets and the traditions; I grasp a basic knowledge of their language, enough to get around; I fall in love with the people, and appreciate how their society works, the beauty of the city, and the intricacy of the culture. Then, when it almost feels like home, I have to leave. Goodbye is the hardest part, but mostly because I leave knowing that I will go to a new place and the cycle will begin anew. Nevertheless, no matter how difficult it is, the experience is worth it.

Academically speaking, what is the most enlightening part of the program?

Academically, I love the professors’ accessibility both inside and outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom, they are knowledgeable and clear in their teaching methods. Outside, they have all been open for questions, emails, and one-on-one meetings. They provide academic advice and also take their time helping students with career decisions and questions. I believe the good relations between student and professors are partly promoted by the 8-10 student per class policy. It allows for a more personal approach and individual attention.

Luna at the Loi Krathong Festival in traditional Thai clothing

Luna at the Loi Krathong Festival in traditional Thai clothing

What are your plans for the future after you complete the GMAIR program?

I say I never “plan.” I make an outline to make space for the certain uncertainties of the future. By accepting that I am not in control, I see every situation as a new opportunity.

Within the outline I have made, I am thinking about applying for the Presidential Fellowship. I believe, if accepted, it would be a great new experience, very different from what I’ve done so far. Further in my career, I would like to work at the United Nations, as it’s been my goal for a while.

Also, I am working with my fellow Cohort 2 members to create an NGO for youth development. It is still on the outlining stages but, hopefully, the project sets sail and becomes a cornerstone to help people and an embodied reminder of our time and work together in the Cohort.

Any fun travel plans over winter break?

I am taking it slow during winter break. From August to December, I’ve been in the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, South Korea, and Thailand (not to mention those weekend getaways). I think it’s time to go back home, see the family for the holidays and relax on my Caribbean waters. But, hey, Puerto Rico is still fun to travel to! (Secretly, I just want to hide in the warm weather before going to Geneva.)

I would also like to mention one thing I didn’t evaluate when I entered the program but has now become essential: my friends. There are no words to describe how important they have been throughout this semester. We have had wonderful experiences, grown together, and, ultimately, become a family. We trust each other, we count on each other, and we argue with each other (which is followed by an apology and going back to normal). My experience in the program wouldn’t have been half of what it is today if it wasn’t for them. Thank you Cohort 2 (and Jocelyn) for being such wonderful people and making this year even more special. 

Luna (second from right) with her fellow GMAIR cohort members

Luna (second from right) with her fellow GMAIR cohort members

The Global MA program is accepting applications to join our 2016-17 cohorts. For more information, visit, or contact Sarah Nandor at

Cultural Connections: Willkommen, Paul!

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Each month, Global Thinking features a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post profiles Paul Hellriegel, one of the department’s new international teaching assistants.


Paul on a trip to Philadelphia

Paul Hellriegel, from Leipzig, Germany, is very eager to be here teaching with us at Webster University. When he returns home, Paul hopes to finish his master’s degree within the year and to eventually become an English and sports teacher in Germany. He looks forward to telling his future students about the world, but to do that he wanted to gain more experiences from around the world. Having spent his junior year of high school in California, he learned that the world had so much to offer and that people with different backgrounds than his own can have very different views on things. Coming back to the United States to teach was the logical next step for him in his search for knowledge and understanding.

Paul said that he has been playing European football for more than 20 years and that he wanted to share his passion for it and other sports with teenagers. To be a high school teacher in Germany, you have to have a second subject to teach. For a while, Paul was stuck between English and politics, but the year he spent in California was what made his decision for him.

Paul (left) with his roommates

Paul (left) with his roommates

Paul is very thankful for the Webster community, who has helped to make the transition from Germany to St. Louis a smooth one. There are many things that he misses from home, but that his time here has been good. He said that the biggest surprise for him was the people. Everyone has cared very much and has helped to make his life much easier than it would have been without them. He said that both the university and his students have been a big help, but more than anything, he says that getting to know and traveling with the other TA’s has been the best part of life at Webster. While they might not be able to replace the ocean or European bread, his fellow TA’s have made life in St. Louis much better.

This semester, Paul is teaching one intermediate German course, and three German workshop courses. He was surprised by the amount of diversity that St. Louis has to offer, and is excited about what he can learn from it. He is grateful for everything that has already happened, and is looking forward to everything that will come.

Paul and some of his Webster students and a local guest musician, Ian Fisher

Paul and some of his Webster students and a local guest musician, Ian Fisher (center)

Research Across Disciplines Expands for Second Conference

Students, professors, and conference attendees discuss a research project with a student at RAD in April, 2015.

Research Across Disciplines returns to Webster University December 11-12, and this time around, the student research conference will be bigger and better than ever. In April, RAD showcased research performed by undergraduate students across the region in a variety of academic fields within arts and sciences; for its second incarnation this winter, RAD has expanded to include work by undergraduate and graduate students representing academic and creative disciplines Webster-wide, from anthropology to administration to audio production.

Students will present their work through posters, oral and creative presentations, and roundtable discussions over two days on the Webster Groves campus, gaining valuable experience as emerging contributors to their field.



Dr. Danielle MacCartney, Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Division of Liberal Arts Programs, says RAD’s evolution “reflects Webster’s expanding commitment to supporting independent and student-faculty collaborative scholarship opportunities across all of higher education,” — opportunities which serve students well both in school and beyond.

“Studies show real value for students in performing research, whether independently or in collaboration with a faculty member,” MacCartney says. “The research process connects them with mentors in their field, helps them develop skills in creative problem-solving, and gives them hands-on experience tackling the kinds of complex problems they’ll encounter later as working professionals in the global marketplace.”

“Webster is full of bright, inquisitive students doing excellent work in a variety of fields,” she adds. “The College is excited to help showcase that by growing our annual research conference.”

The community is welcome to attend the conference December 11-12, 2015 at the Webster Groves campus, and students are encouraged to submit their work. The online submission period ends November 1, 2015. Students only need to submit an abstract and answer a few questions about their research to apply, and they can indicate for which presentation formats they would like their research to be considered.

For more information about the event, visit

Webster Nursing Program Well-Represented at March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Awards

From left: Marti Steed, Director of Clinical Education, Nurse Anesthesia; Mary Ann Drake, Professor, Nursing; Susan Heady, Professor, Nursing; Jenny Broeder, Interim Co-Dean of College of Arts & Sciences Division of Professional Programs, Chair and Professor of Nursing

From left: Marti Steed, Director of Clinical Education, Nurse Anesthesia; Mary Ann Drake, Professor, Nursing; Susan Heady, Professor, Nursing; Jenny Broeder, Interim Co-Dean of College of Arts & Sciences Division of Professional Programs, Chair and Professor of Nursing

Faculty members from the Departments of Nursing and Nurse Anesthesia attended the March of Dimes Missouri Chapter’s Nurse of the Year gala on October 10 in support of six Webster faculty, students, and alumna nominated for this year’s Nurse of the Year Awards. March of Dimes bestows these awards to “honor nurses who exemplify an extraordinary level of patient care, compassion and customer service,” and the annual gala provides an opportunity for the nursing community to celebrate the critical work those nurses — and others — do every day.

The Nurse of the Year Award finalists with Webster connections are:

Lori Winkler, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital; current Webster student – Case Management, Public/Occupational Health category finalist

Jenny Broeder, Webster University; Interim Co-Dean of College of Arts & Sciences Division of Professional Programs, Chair and Professor of nursing – Education category finalist

Carlita Vasser, At Home Care St. Louis; Webster alumna – Hospice, Home Health, Palliative Care, Long Term Acute Care category finalist

Julie Binder, Mercy Hospital – St. Louis; Webster alumna – Infection Control & Quality/Risk Management category finalist

Robyn Weilbacher, Mercy Hospital – St. Louis; Webster alumna – Nursing Administration category finalist

Barbara Sicking, Mercy Hospital – St. Louis; Webster alumna – Pediatrics category winner

Special congratulations to Barbara Sicking, who won the 2015 Nurse of the Year Award in the Pediatrics category. Sicking graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Webster in 2009.



“We are proud that Webster’s nursing faculty, students, and alumni have been so well-represented among those honored with the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year awards for the past few years,” said Jenny Broeder, Interim Co-Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Division of Professional Programs, Chair and Professor of Nursing, and a finalist for the Nurse of the Year Award in Education.

“It’s wonderful to see our nurses recognized for making a positive impact on the health of the community, and we’re grateful to March of Dimes for the visibility that the Nurse of the Year awards provide for the critical work all nurses do on a daily basis.”

Reunion in Havana: Webster’s Big Love to Take Part in International Theatre Festival

A scene from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts' Big Love, directed by Jef Awada

A scene from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts production of Big Love, directed by Jef Awada

Students from Webster’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts will reunite with the University’s 2015 Global Leaders in Residence Flora Lauten and Raquel Carrio in Havana, Cuba when their production of Big Love travels to the Havana Theatre Festival on October 19.

The annual festival brings together professional theatre companies from around the world for nine days of performances, panels, and workshops. This year, a show by Lauten and Carrio’s theatre company Teatro Buendia kicks off the festival. Webster’s Big Love will run for three performances.

Those making the trip to Cuba includes two faculty members, three student crew members, and 15 student actors – three of whom have graduated from Webster since the show’s first run. The group will spend a week in Havana, arriving in time to navigate some of the trickier aspects of mounting a production overseas – including gathering the set and prop pieces which can’t be shipped to Cuba – before taking the stage at Teatro Las Carolinas in Old Havana. Big Love will run alongside shows mounted by professional theatre companies from Russia, Spain, Brazil, and elsewhere around the globe.

“This is a chance for our students to intersect with fellow artists from around the world, to show their wonderful work to an international audience, and to experience what it is like to make theatre under much less comfortable conditions than we are used to in the US,” says Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and director of Big Love Jef Awada.

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Webster Geneva Centennial Speaker Series to Focus on Genocide


In commemoration of Webster University’s centennial anniversary, the Geneva campus is pleased to present its Centennial Speaker Series: “Open Wounds: A Century of Crimes against Humanity.” This series will bring together the International Relations, Media Communications, and Psychology departments to reflect and present on this common theme.

The suffering of civilians as the result of atrocities and massacres has always been a part of human history; in the year 1915, when Webster University was founded, the First World War was gripping Europe and the Armenian genocide was being perpetrated. Since then, and over the next one hundred years, crimes against humanity did not abate, as we witnessed the Shoah, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the mass murders of Bosnia and Rwanda, to name just a few.

In order to mark and to better understand these important historical milestones, including their lessons and legacies, Webster University Geneva invites scholars, experts, activists and witnesses to shed light on the subject of crimes against humanity. This Centennial Speaker Series will endeavor to look at other issues related to the aftermath of genocide and the long-term ramifications of such horrendous events, including justice and reconciliation.

This three-part speaker series will cover:
“Life After Genocide” – November 9 – 12, 2015: A photographic reportage on what life is like after genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda

“Open Wounds, Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide” – November 12, 2015: A presentation on the post-genocide political history of Armenians and Turks

“Why Genocide?: Realities, Responses and Ramifications” – December 4, 2015: A one-day conference covering the key themes and impacts of genocide:
– Ideologies, intolerance and genocide
– Historical perspectives on genocide
– Prevention and punishment of genocide
– Justice, reconciliation, and healing after genocide

The culminating conference on December 4th aims to bring together scholars, experts, activists, and witnesses to shed light on different aspects of genocide, including the major milestones over the past one hundred years (involving the Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Rwandans, Bosnians and others), the responses to these tragedies, and their long-term ramifications. The International Relations Department at Webster University Geneva is now accepting submissions for conference presentations by all those interested — especially academics, international civil servants, diplomats, lawyers, NGO members, and students. Presentations are expected to be 15 to 20 minutes in length. The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 6. For queries and further information, please contact Dr. Jubin Goodarzi, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of the International Relations Department, at or by telephone at 022 959 8027.

Broeder, Stimpfl Named Interim Co-Deans for College of Arts and Sciences

Broeder (left) and Stimpfl

Broeder (left) and Stimpfl

The Office of the Provost announced that faculty members Jenny Broeder and Joseph Stimpfl have been named interim co-deans for the College of Arts & Sciences.

Continuing a structural realignment initiated by the College in 2013, Broeder will lead the College’s Division of Professional Programs, while Stimpfl will lead the Division of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

“Both Jenny and Joe are natural fits to lead the College of Arts & Sciences during this interim period,” said Julian Schuster, Webster’s provost, senior vice president, and chief operating officer. “Their respective experience in professional programs and liberal arts at Webster will serve the College well and ensure a smooth transition.”

In this role, Broeder will oversee departments of Professional Counseling, Legal Studies, Nursing, and Nurse Anesthesia. An associate professor of nursing, past chair of the Department of Nursing, and coordinator of the MSN program, Broeder was named interim associate dean for the Division of Professional Programs in 2013. In that position, she has advanced new and existing accreditation processes for academic programs within the division.

Stimpfl’s role will include oversight for the departments of Biological Sciences; Anthropology & Sociology; English; History, Politics, & International Relations; the Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies; International Languages & Cultures; Philosophy; Psychology; and Religious Studies. A professor and chair of Religious Studies, Stimpfl has also taught in Thailand and served as task force co-chair for the 2014-15 international site review of the Thailand campuses.

The appointments are effective immediately.

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Cultural Connections: Bienvenue à Saint Louis, Camille!

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Each month, Global Thinking features a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post profiles Camille Fernandez, one of the department’s new international teaching assistants.

camilleCamille Fernandez is the 2015 French teaching assistant here at Webster University. Camille is from Lourdes, France, a small town near the Pyrénées Mountains, which is famous for its annual Catholic pilgrimage in August. She moved to Toulouse for her studies, and has also lived in Brighton, England, and Paris. Camille says that the area around Toulouse is her favorite area of France because of the sunny beaches and the close proximity to the mountains, and, of course, the food.

This semester she is teaching a French conversation class and a French film class, and she is excited to be working at Webster. Having never taught before, she is very grateful for the support of the staff and the advice from the other TA’s. Camille is thankful to be working with college students because she finds them to be easier to connect with than younger kids and that they have more meaningful and impactful stories to offer in class. She hopes to finish her graduate dissertation while here and to graduate in June. She also hopes to use her experiences at Webster to decide if she wants to become a teacher or not.

portrait en fleursAfter completing her undergraduate degree, Camille took some time off of school to work as a projectionist in Paris. She loves all things related to the movies, so why not work with them? Besides movies, she also loves to spend time outside in parks, cafes, and bookshops. Camille has a particular interest in American history and says that she loves to look at history from the perspective of the ‘outsiders’ in society.

Camille heard about the TA program from one of her friends, who participated in the program a few years ago. She is very glad to be here, and has already learned a lot from living and working with her fellow TA’s, and is very excited for the upcoming year.

You’re Invited: ACEN Site Visit for Webster’s Nursing Programs

acen_200The Webster University Department of Nursing wishes to announce that it will host a site review for continuing accreditation of its baccalaureate and master’s programs in nursing by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

You are invited to meet the site visit team and share your comments about the program in person at a meeting scheduled from 3:00 – 4:00pm on October 28, 2015 in Webster Hall Room 135 (470 East Lockwood Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119).

Written comments are also welcome and should be submitted directly to:

Dr. Marsal Stoll, Chief Executive Officer
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850
Atlanta, GA 30326

Or email:

All written comments should be received by the ACEN by October 22, 2015.

Journalist Tom Gross Gives Inaugural Lecture in Series at Webster Athens

From left: Ellie Despotaki, Academic Advisor and Special Programs Coordinator; Susie Michaelides, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Tom Mazarakis, Director of Operations; Antonia Dimou, Director of Admissions; Tom Gross, guest lecturer; John Nomikos, Head of History, Politics, & International Relations at Webster Athens; and Nadia Black, Intern

Webster’s newest campus in Athens, Greece is already buzzing with activity in its first semester. A new lecture series, co-sponsored by the Department of History, Politics, & International Relations and the Office of Admissions, is part of that buzz: the series launched September 25 with a talk by renowned journalist and human rights advocate Tom Gross.

Tom Gross-Webster LectureIn 2014, former Pentagon official Michael Rubin wrote that “Tom Gross is probably Europe’s leading observer of the Middle East.” Titled “Crisis in the Middle East: Iran, Syria, ISIS and the Implications for Europe,” Gross’s lecture at Webster addressed a range of contemporary issues facing that region and its relationship to the rest of the world: the prospects for any near-term solution in Syria, concerns about ISIS territorial control and the multiple reasons that people join its ranks, the challenges of the migrant-refugee crisis that European Union member countries need to confront, Iran’s regional discourse, and US policy toward a turbulent Middle East.

Antonia Dimou, Director of Admissions at Webster Athens, said she was particularly impressed by the “active participation of the audience in the discussions that followed the lecture.” That audience included diplomats, military and security officers, students, academicians, and journalists, Dimou said.

The lecture series at Webster Athens comes as part of the University’s focus on depth learning, experience, understanding, and critical analysis of world affairs from thought leaders. More information on the next series installment is forthcoming — stay tuned!