About Us

Mission & Staff

USF Education Abroad Mission Statement

The Education Abroad Office promotes global competency by supporting and creating high-impact, innovative, and accessible international experiences for students.

Tampa campus

Amanda Maurer, Director of Education Abroad
Ms. Maurer came to USF in 2008 from the Columbia University School of Law, where she held the position of Senior Director of International Programs for thirteen years. She also worked with an NGO that developed conferences and programs in the USSR and PRC. She holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Russian language and literature from FSU. Her study abroad experiences were in former Yugoslavia and the USSR.

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Phone: (813) 974-4126


 Jim Pulos, Associate Director of Education Abroad
With more than 30 years in the USF Education Abroad Office, Mr. Pulos has facilitated study abroad experiences for thousands of USF students.  Mr. Pulos currently heads the Academic Services unit within Education Abroad serving as the primary contact for Education Abroad registration and School of Record questions. 

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Phone: (813) 974-4043


Rene Sanchez, Assistant Director of Education Abroad
Mr. Sanchez joined the Education Abroad Office in the fall of 2001. He is a USF graduate, with a Bachelor of the Arts in Psychology and a minor in International Studies. He completed his Master of Education with a focus on Instructional Technology and Curriculum Design. His passion for international education led him to complete study abroad programs in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, Peru, and the United Kingdom; later leading programs to the United Kingdom and France. He currently serves the office as the Assistant Director for Operations where he acts as the primary contact for faculty development, contracting, virtual global exchange, and oversees the program development and exchanges team.

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Phone: (813) 974-3104


Raheleh "Rahi" Dayerizadeh, Ph.D, Assistant Director of Education Abroad
Rahi has diverse experience in higher education as an academic advisor, instructor, coordinator, and leadership that she brings to her role as assistant director for student services in Education Abroad. As an academic advisor for Pre-law, Political Science, International Studies, Africana Studies, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Judy Genshaft Honors College, with over 17+ years of experience in public higher education, Dr. Dayerizadeh brings a unique interdisciplinary critical perspective to curriculum and global learning and program development. During COVID, through the Global Citizen Project, she directed a global virtual program called Operation: Global Action which connected over 1000 students together from USF and UniNorte to collaborate on projects promoting the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Over the years, she has taught 25+ courses in the areas of World Perspectives, Comparative Politics, Geo-perspectives, Conflicts in the World, Politics of Developing Areas, Women in the Middle East and North Africa, and Women in Development. Furthermore, she has studied abroad in Argentina and has helped direct education abroad programs in the UK and France. She is well traveled, and speaks fluent Farsi, and has proficiency in Arabic, and Spanish. She has served on multiple committees including co-chairing the UGS Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and has been nominated for the USF Inclusive Excellence Award. Her passion for promoting global competency and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals drives her to inspire students for academic success at USF and empowers them to study abroad.

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Phone: (813) 974-8450


Neil MacNeil, Assistant Director - Global Travel Safety and Health

Neil MacNeil comes from an academic family as his father was a Professor at Penn State University.  Neil’s first significant overseas experience was as a Fulbright kid in Ankara Turkey.  He is a graduate of Penn State University with a degree in International Politics.  After a tour of duty in the US Navy, Neil spent 25 years with the US State Department as a Special Agent and security specialist with the Diplomatic Security Service.  He has lived overseas in Haiti, Jerusalem, Cameroon, Serbia, and Belgium and has travelled to and/or worked in over 75 countries.  His most recent job after retirement was as the interim Global Safety Manager at Penn State Global.   

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Phone: (813) 974-3274


Earle Trott, Coordinator - Global Travel Safety and Health
Earle Trott is the Global Travel Safety and Health Coordinator at USF World. He has worked at the University of South Florida since 2019.  He served 21 years in the US Army and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his military service, Earle served as a Field Artillery Officer and a Middle East and North Africa Foreign Area Officer. As a Foreign Area Officer, he traveled the region extensively, trained alongside US partners and served in U.S. Diplomatic Missions in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Egypt.  He earned his M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. He holds a B.A in Elementary Education from Bowie State University and an A.A degree in Arabic Language from the Defense Language Institute. 

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Phone: (813) 974-7631


Nancy Di Bella, Education Abroad Program Developer
Ms. Di Bella develops USF faculty-led programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Iberian Peninsula, Greece, Italy, Japan and Africa. Born and raised in Venezuela, she grew up bicultural and bilingual completing a Bachelor’s degree in Venezuela and a Master’s at USF. Beginning in 2005 she led many Education Abroad programs to Costa Rica and Ecuador as faculty before joining the Education Abroad Office in 2014. She has seen students’ experiences abroad from many angles yet she never ceases to be amazed by its transformative power.

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Phone: (813) 974-1969


Elena Efremova, Education Abroad Program Developer
Elena Efremova is a Program Manager overseeing faculty-led programs in non-Mediterranean Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa. Elena also works with students going on affiliate programs through SIT and Barcelona SAE.

Born and raised in Russia, she completed her undergraduate exchange program at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania and received a Master’s degree in International Economics back in her home town of Vladivostok, Russia. Since 2004, Elena managed cultural exchanges and partnership projects between Russia and the United States at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow before moving to Tampa and joining the Education Abroad Office in 2018.

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Phone: (813) 974-6789


Lauren Strange, Student Programs Coordinator
Lauren Strange serves as the advisor to incoming exchange students, students attending non – affiliate programs, and oversees the Peace Corps Prep certificate program. An alumnae of USF, Lauren participated in an exchange with Oxford Brookes University  as an undergraduate student  and then went on to serve as  a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic. 

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Phone: (813) 974-6148


K.C. Kirchner, Student Programs Coordinator
KC Kirchner serves as the program coordinator overseeing outbound exchange programs, special programs, and our Global Classroom Initiative, including the Virtual Global Exchange program. Originally from North Carolina, she is an alumna of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte with Bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Public Relations. KC began her study abroad experience as an undergraduate student in Valencia, Spain, and lived overseas in Palma de Mallorca and Madrid for three years teaching English as a foreign language. She earned her Master's in Global Higher Education from the University of Alcalá (UAH) in Madrid before moving to Tampa and joining the Education Abroad Office in 2023. 

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Phone: (813) 974-2901


Chloe King, Student Programs Coordinator
Chloe King is the Student Program Coordinator for select faculty-led study abroad programs at the University of South Florida. She is a Tampa native and alumna of USF, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Communication. Chloe began her study abroad experience in Italy with the Summer 2022 program with Florence University of the Arts. During her undergraduate years, she served as a student recruiter for Education Abroad where her passion for international education began. Chloe brings her experience as a USF Education Abroad alumna to her role, where she supports students throughout each step of their study abroad journeys. She is currently located in the Global Student Hub in FAO 011 and encourages anyone interested in studying abroad to stop by and start their journey.

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Kirby Purdom, Student Programs Coordinator
Kirby Purdom is the Affiliated Partner Student Programs Coordinator for Education Abroad at USF. With a strong background in international education, Kirby is passionate about cross-cultural experiences. He studied Spanish language education at James Madison University and studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain, sparking his love for Spanish culture. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, Kirby taught English and built meaningful connections with the community. With fluency in Spanish and firsthand study abroad knowledge, Kirby provides invaluable support to students. Dedicated to career-readiness, Kirby ensures unforgettable and enriching experiences at USF. Connect with him for world-expanding opportunities!

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Dana Almasri, Education Abroad Marketing and Communication Specialist

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Shari Gray, Fiscal Business Manager
Shari is a proud USF alumnus with a BA in Finance and a BS in Accounting. She came to work for USF with over 25 years of accounting management in private industry. Her primary responsibility is the fiscal management of our Education Abroad programs.

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Ivelisse Hernandez , Fiscal Business Analyst

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Hong Wu , Fiscal Business Specialist

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William Terrell (Terrell), Fiscal Business Specialist

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C. J. Edwards, Enrollment Management Specialist

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Trang Ly, Enrollment Specialist

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Gary Bellamy, Technology and Systems Analyst
Gary has over 25 years experience in Data Analysis, Telecommunications and IT in the private sector. A U.S. Patent holder and experience with ITIL and Lean/Six Sigma methodologies. 

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Phone: (813) 974-3933

St.Petersburg campus

Wendy Baker, Campus Director
Wendy Baker is responsible for leading global engagement for USF World at the St. Petersburg campus. She is serves on the Education Abroad leadership team, oversees the Education Abroad Advisory Council, and co-leads the Virtual Global Exchange (VGE) initative with Mr. Sanchez. 

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Phone: 727-873-4851


Joseph Kenny, Student Programs Coordinator
Mr. Kenny is responsible for promoting and marketing education abroad programming across USF, the registration of student-related travel, and providing supporting services for outgoing and incoming exchange students at the St. Petersburg campus.

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Phone: 727-873-4270

Sarasota-Manatee campus

Brandon McLeod, Ph.D., Campus Director
Brandon is responsible for leading internationalization and global engagement activities for USF World at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. Additionally, he oversees Education Abroad Scholarships and Visiting Scholar Programming for all three campuses. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi in Higher Education with a graduate minor in Applied Statistics. His dissertation is titled "Online Learning Readiness among International Students". He also co-authored the chapter "Overview of Post-baccalaureate Student Needs" with Dr. George S. McClellan, which appears in Shephard and Perry's "A Practitioner’s Guide to Supporting Graduate and Professional Students". Brandon also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching Languages (TESOL) from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Master of Arts in English and Writing from the University of South Alabama, and a Bachelor of Arts in English, with minors in French and Philosophy from Spring Hill College.  Prior to joining USF, he served as the Assistant Director for International Programs at the University of Mississippi and, prior to that, taught English to speakers of other languages in both the US and Japan. His research interests include international and comparative higher education, instructional technology and online learning, belonging, and widening participation. 

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Phone: (941)359-4314

Phal Patel, Fiscal Business Analyst
Phal is a Fiscal & Business Analyst for USF Education Abroad programs. Born and raised in India, she is bilingual and graduated with a Bachelors and Masters in Clinical Psychology from India and MBA in Management from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut. 

Though she never had an opportunity to participate in a study abroad experience, she has a passion for traveling and has traveled extensively within the United States and internationally. She believes that traveling enhances one’s outlook and appreciation of different cultures. 

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Phone: 941-359-4266