About Us

The Center for Global Engagement is an academic resource center for University of Maryland, Baltimore faculty and students who are interested in global education opportunities. We promote and support interprofessional global education, identify global themes that can be contextualized locally, and facilitate academic work related to global education.

Our Team

Virginia Rowthorn, Assistant Vice President
(410) 706-3098 | virginia.rowthorn@umaryland.edu

Virginia Rowthorn, JD, LLM (Global Health Law), is assistant vice president for global engagement at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and executive director of the Center for Global Engagement (CGE). She also is a senior lecturer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Graduate School, where she directs the Global Health Innovation Certificate program.  Previously, Rowthorn was the Managing Director for the Law & Health Care Program at Maryland Carey Law for 10 years; a staff attorney at the Department of Health and Human Services; Associate at the law firm of DLA Piper; and a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Marshall Islands.  She is on the Board of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH). 

 In her role as AVP, Rowthorn oversees the activities of CGE, a University-wide center that serves as the hub of interprofessional global health and education activities on the UMB campus. CGE provides University-wide leadership to build and sustain global education at UMB; nurtures strategic global partnerships through the center-run President’s Global Impact Fund; creates and manages student, faculty, and staff mobility programs; promotes collaborative international research; develops curricula designed to build global competency through the GLOBALtimore Fellows Program; and delivers educational and professional services that support sustainable global programs.  Rowthorn obtained her BA in American Studies from Carleton College, JD from University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and LLM in Global Health Law from Georgetown Law.

Bonnie Bissonette, Director, Education Abroad and International Safety
(410) 706-6331 | bbissonette@umaryland.edu

Bonnie Bissonette Director Center for Global Education InitiativesBonnie Bissonette, MA, EdD, has been the director of the Student Center for Global Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore since March 2012. She works to strengthen international opportunities for students at all seven schools at the University by working collaboratively with faculty and staff. Bonnie works to develop processes and procedures, appropriate safety and security mechanisms, and other logistics relevant to student international experiences.

Before coming to UMB, Bissonette was the associate dean of Business and International Education at North Central Technical College in Wausau, Wis., for 10 years, and, prior to that, a U.S. foreign service officer (management), serving for 13 years at U.S. embassies in England, Madagascar, Mauritius, Eritrea, and Qatar. She served on the board of directors of NAFSA-Association of International Educators (2008-2011) and is a frequent presenter on international education leadership topics. At present, she is serving as a public member of the governing body of the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). She received her BA at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.; her MA at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and her EdD at the University of Minnesota.

Lauren Taylor, Senior Communications and Events Specialist
(410) 706-3098 | lauren.taylor@umaryland.edu

Portrait of woman wearing glasses and fuchsia shirtLauren Taylor is the Senior Communications and Events Specialist in the Center for Global Engagement at UMB. Previously, she worked at Leadership Baltimore County and the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, where she handled all aspects of communications, marketing, and event planning. She served on the School Board Nominating Commission for Baltimore County Public Schools for three years as a representative of the Chamber and is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Essentials Howard County. She received a bachelor’s degree from Hollins University, where she spent a semester in London.

Amy Ramirez, Director of International Services
(410) 706-7488 | aramirez@umaryland.edu

Headshot of woman with dark hair, black jacket and colorful scarf around her next, with green bushes behind her.

Amy Ramirez, MA, has been Director of the Office of International Services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore since 2011. In this role, Amy oversees efforts to provide comprehensive services to UMB’s international student and scholar community. Amy also leads the Center for Global Engagement’s GLOBALtimore Teaching Fellowship, which provides professional development for UMB faculty to globalize their courses. Amy’s passion for the field of international education was inspired during her undergraduate studies, where she studied abroad in Spain, lived in the International House, and worked as a student worker in the international student office.

Before coming to UMB, Amy worked in international student and scholar services at Johns Hopkins University and The George Washington University. She has also served in several volunteer leadership positions in NAFSA: Association of International Educators, most recently as a trainer for NAFSA’s Management Development Program. Amy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master’s degree in International Education from The George Washington University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park. In her spare time, Amy loves to read and travel to new places.

Gina Dreyer, Assistant Director of International Scholar & Student Services
(410) 706-3171 | gdreyer@umaryland.edu

Headshot of woman wearing orange tank top with green bushes behind herGina M. Dreyer is Assistant Director in the Office of International Services where she advises both international students and scholars. Gina specializes in educating students & scholars on their visa status, and campus departments on procedures for requesting nonimmigrant visa sponsorship. She joined the office in 2012.

She also serves as the Regulatory Ombudsperson for Scholar Issues for Region VIII of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. In that volunteer role, she assists colleagues in navigating regulatory procedures related to USCIS. She holds a master’s degree in Instructional Systems Development from UMBC and bachelor’s degree in International Languages and Cultures (concentrations in Spanish & Latin American Studies) from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She spent a semester in Granada, Spain and has also traveled to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.

Semhar Okbazion, Assistant Director of International Services
(410) 706-7488 | sokbazion@umaryland.edu

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Semhar Okbazion is a native of Eritrea and she has been working in the field of international education since 2010. Before joining UMB, Semhar worked at Johns Hopkins University and American University in Washington, D.C., where she advised international students and scholars on student and work visas and coordinated several well-received events in collaboration with campus partners and U.S. immigration lawyers. Semhar is the point person for employment visas (such as H-1B, TN, and E-3) for faculty and staff at UMB and she serves as the backup student and J-1 scholar advisor. Semhar also maintains Sunapsis, the case management solution of the Office of International Services.

Previously, Semhar worked with immigration law firms in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Semhar has two LL.M. degrees from American University, one in International Law and a second in U.S. Law and Government with a specialization in Administrative and U.S. Immigration Law. Semhar earned an LL.B. degree (equivalent to a U.S. JD) from the University of Asmara, where she worked as a lecturer for three years.

Semhar loves the field of international education and U.S. immigration law, and she enjoys working with a diverse group of working professionals and students. In her spare time, she helps refugees and displaced students to locate global study and postdoctoral opportunities.

Mio Kamijo, International Student Coordinator
(410) 706-0025 | mkamijo@umaryland.edu

Headshot of a woman with dark hair and black shirtMio Kamijo is the International Student Coordinator in the Office of International Services, where she assists new and continuing international students by advising them on federal immigration regulations and supporting them personally, academically and culturally. She also plans, coordinates and executes international student programs.

Before starting at UMB, she worked at AFS Japan and British Council planning and managing international youth exchanges, providing English learning courses and teacher training programs. She also worked as an education advisor at the Japanese Student Service Organization, providing support and advice to people looking for scholarships to go abroad.

Mio has always been interested in the research about Language and International Education. She received a master's degree in Learning, Learning Environment and Educational System at the University of Turku in Finland and a bachelor’s degree in English Linguistic at Shinshu University in Japan. She had the opportunity to study abroad in the UK, Hong Kong and Finland. In 2017, she completed her graduate certificate in Program Evaluation at Florida State University.