1981: Leslie Zuidema Appointed International Student Coordinator
Capitol Campus hired Leslie Zuidema as an administrative assistant in the Office of Student Affairs for the 1980-1981 academic year to aid the director of student affairs and to advise the international students.
Some of her qualifications for her role advisor include B.A. and M.A. degrees in Spanish and experiences as a Spanish teaching assistant and an ESL teacher of Cuban refugees at Fort Indiantown Gap.
The Office of Student Affairs created the international student coordinator position in 1975 when it recognized the growing international student population. There were about 40 international students at Capital Campus in 1976, and by 1981, there were about 100. Word-of-mouth advertising was the biggest contributor to this growth – current international students informally recruited friends and colleagues from their home countries.
Although some international students were permanent residents, most were studying in the US on visas, and one of Zuidema’s duties was to assist international students in navigating their visas. Zuidema was known for creating an informal and relaxing atmosphere in her office to encourage international students to seek her out for help and advice acclimating to a new culture.
As the international student population continued to grow, so did the international student services and activities. The International Affairs Association (IAA), an SGA-approved student group, attracted many international students. Some of the IAA’s contributions included hosting and participating in Model United Nations competitions, organizing international film festivals, and sponsoring international dinners. Zuidema established the Friendship Family Program in which she recruited families from the Middletown and surrounding communities to invite international students to dinner in their homes.