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Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Civic Engagement

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Welcome to SUSI 2024

Welcome to the 2024 SUSI Program on Civic Engagement at Michigan State University! The Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Civic Engagement is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and hosted by the Visiting International Professional Program (VIPP) in collaboration with MSU Global Studies in the Arts & Humanities and Meridian International Center. Now in its third year, this summer program brings student leaders from universities all across Europe to the U.S. to learn about civic engagement.



Program Details

During the five-week intensive program, the students will examine how citizens have shaped U.S. history through community organizing and social movements. Students will explore topics such as citizenship, public culture, economic development, grassroots activism, political leadership, and volunteerism. Academic sessions are complemented with hands-on workshops, guest lectures, community service at local organizations, cultural activities, and site visits. At the end of their program at MSU, the students will present their own innovative action plans aimed at fostering engaged citizenship in their home communities. The final week of the SUSI program consists of a study tour in Atlanta, Georgia.



Program Framework

Civic Engagement: From Exploration to Participation


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Students will be awarded the Study of the U.S. - Civic Engagement certificate by MSU VIPP upon successful completion of the program.

SUSI Team & Speakers

SUSI Program Team

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Professor Salah D. Hassan (he/him)

Academic Director

Professor Salah D. Hassan, Director of the Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities program at Michigan State University will lead the Academic program of the Institute on Civic Engagement. Dr. Hassan has extensive experience in program design and implementation in civic engagement with an emphasis on experiential learning and community engagement. He will offer academic leadership including guiding all faculty, student assistants, guest speakers, and community partners in programming to ensure students achieve all the leaning outcomes.



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Dr. Xinyu Wu (she/her)

Program Director 

Dr. Xinyu Wu is the Director of the Visiting International Professional Program at MSU, and leads the SUSI program. Dr. Wu has over 20 years of experience in the field of international education, and has worked as the Director of International Education Centers in a number of universities, including Bangor University and Middlesex University in the UK, and the National University of Ireland Maynooth in Ireland. Dr. Wu's expertise includes establishing and managing collaborative links with internationally reputable universities around the world, and she applies that to VIPP's long-term development strategy by providing leadership on all key areas including stakeholder engagement, program design, partnership development, and alumni engagement. Dr. Wu earned her PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Ulster, UK after obtaining a first-class honors degree in Applied Computing in Wuhan University, China.


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James Magee, M.A. (he/him)

Program Coordinator

James Magee brings over a decade of practical and professional international experience in both the higher education and non-profit sectors. Before coming to work at Michigan State University, James worked as an Assistant Professor in the Global Business Department at Kosin University in South Korea, and as the Executive Director of a number of small nonprofit organizations. In these roles, James taught on a number of cultural and worldview engagement issues, and was a staunch advocate for a number of human rights issues, including the rights of immigrants, refugees, and the LGBTQ+ community. James is currently finishing his PhD in International Relations with a B.A. from the University of Wales Bangor, and a Masters from Calvin.


SUSI Speakers & Panelists

Teamwork on Intercultural Communication & Leadership

Anjam Chaudhary.jpgDr. Anjam Chaudhary is the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program coordinator at MSU International Studies and Programs. With more than 10 years of national and international experience in academic and administrative education and a passion for intercultural communication competence, Chaudhary brings a multicultural and multilingual perspective to this new position. Most recently she served in professional development and graduate recruitment at Central Michigan University’s Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute, where she developed and facilitated leadership workshops and conferences on diversity and interculturality. Prior to that, she was the faculty-led program coordinator in CMU’s Office of International Affairs. Chaudhary earned her PhD in education, interculturality and student development from Central Michigan University, and she also holds a master’s degree in integrated communications, advertising and public relations from Florida International University; a certificate in advertising and global communications from Berlin’s Institute of Marketing and Communications; and a bachelor’s in South Asian studies from the National Institute of Asian Languages and Cultures.


MSU Library Tour

Stephanie C. Perentesis (MLS, MA-TESOL) is a humanities and linguistics librarian at the MSU Libraries who also works in reference services. She especially enjoys introducing visiting international students and scholars to the extensive resources available at MSU and in the wider community that support their research, learning, and civic engagement.

DeborahMargolis.jpgDeborah Margolis is Middle East Studies Librarian at Michigan State University. She is library liaison to the Muslim Studies Program and the Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel. A current U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Deborah is working with libraries in Jordan, Palestine, and the U.S. on a professional exchange program.





AndreaMcMillian_Edits_0002.jpgAndrea McMillan joined the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections in 2019 as the Chicanx & Latinx Studies Librarian. Her work focuses on curating the César Chávez browsing collection, the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Latino Collection, and the José F. Treviño Chicano/Latino Activism archival collection. In addition, as a core faculty member in Chicano/Latino Studies, she supports the program and its scholars through collection development activities, library instruction and outreach services. Andrea earned her BA in English from Michigan State University (2012), and MLIS from Wayne State University (2018).




Leadership Theory and Intercultural Interaction

gasteyer-headshot.jpgProfessor Stephen P. Gasteyer is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. His research focuses on community development, environmental justice, and the political ecology of landscape change, with specific attention food, energy, water, and public health. Recent research has addressed the food access and impacts urban greening in small US cities, alternative energy and community action, environmental equity in access to water and sanitation, and water governance.  Dr. Gasteyer was a 2015-16 Fulbright Scholar at Birzeit University, Ramallah, Palestinian territories. Dr. Gasteyer’s previous positions include: assistant professor of Human and Community Leadership Development at the University of Illinois (2005-2008); Research and Policy Director at the Rural Community Assistance Partnership in Washington, DC (2002-2005); research consultant on issues of global water governance (2001-2002); UNAIS project worker on Agroecosystem research at the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem, and the Palestine Institute for Arid Lands and Environmental Studies, Palestinian territories (1993-1996); Program Associate for the Committee on Sustainable Agriculture, World Resources Institute (1991-1993).  He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali from 1987 through 1990. He received a BA from Earlham College in 1987, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Iowa State University in 2001.


Untitled.jpgProfessor Sheila Contreras is an associate professor in the Department of English. Contreras directed the Chicano/Latino Studies Program at Michigan State University’s (MSU), including graduate and undergraduate degrees, from 2008-2015. From 2015-2017, she served as Associate Dean in the areas of Curriculum, Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Arts & Letters at MSU. Her research and teaching interests include Chican@/x and U.S. Latin@/x literary and cultural studies, comparative indigeneities, and women’s studies. Contreras’ book, Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism and Chicana/o Literature, published by the University of Texas Press, examines a broad array of texts that have contributed to the formation of indigenous discourses in Chican@/x cultural politics. Her current research moves in two directions: one explores the relationship between Mexican-Americans and land through comparatist settler-colonialist contexts, and the other examines Latin@/x student success in higher education.  A first-generation college student, Contreras began her journey to the PhD in the community college system of South Texas.


Civic Engagement

tina.jpgTina Houghton is a program and special projects manager in the Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL). Tina started her career at MSU in 1995 in the College of Education where she coordinated the international graduate teacher certification program housed in the Office of Graduate Studies in Education Overseas. In fall 2000, she accepted a position with the World Association of Infant Mental Health (WAIMH), a non-profit sponsored by MSU University Outreach & Engagement (UOE). During this time, she earned her Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) designation and executed numerous successful events for UOE. In 2009, WAIMH moved to Finland and she was accepted a position in the Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) as a program advisor for pre-professional programs.  During the last ten years, she has had a variety of different responsibilities from developing international community engagement learning programs, introducing international students to community engagement, and advising two registered student organizations (Alternative Spartan Breaks and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). Tina received her bachelor’s degree from Northwood University in Business Administration with a minor in International Business and her Master’s of Science in Administration degree with a concentration in Leadership from Central Michigan University.


Immigration Law Clinic, MSU College of Law

veronica.thronson_head3.jpgProfessor Veronica Tobar Thronson is a Clinical Professor of Law & Director of the MSU Immigration Law Clinic at Michigan State University College of Law where she also teaches Domestic Violence Law, Family Law: Marriage & Divorce, and Immigration and Nationality Law. Thronson routinely conducts trainings for attorneys and judges and was appointed to the faculty of The National Judicial College in 2012. Since 2015 she has served as expert faculty with the National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project at American University Washington College of Law’s national Family Law Attorneys Community of Practice. Thronson is a graduate of the City University of New York School of Law and is admitted to the practice of law in the states of New Jersey, New York, Nevada and Michigan.




david.thronson_head3.jpgProfessor David Thronson joined the Michigan State University College of Law faculty in 2010 and currently serves as the Associate Dean for Experiential Education, the Alan S. Zekelman Professor of International Human Rights Law, and the Director of the Talsky Center for Human Rights of Women and Children. He previously served twice as MSU Law’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and as MSU Law’s Associate Dean for Experiential Education. Thronson’s research focuses on the intersection of family law and immigration law, in particular on the impact of immigration law on children. Thronson holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. from the University of Kansas.




The Role of Race and Other Extralegal Factors in Criminal Investigations, Trials, and the Administration of Capital Punishment

grosso re.jpgProfessor Catherine M. Grosso’s interdisciplinary scholarship examines the role of race and other extralegal factors in criminal investigations, trials, and the administration of capital punishment.Her recent work examines the persistent role of race in jury selection and in charging and sentencing decisions relating to capital punishment. Her National Science Foundation-sponsored project with Professor Barbara O’Brien analyzed the ways stereotypes influence voir dire in capital cases. A third line of work empirically evaluates the success of death penalty statutes in fulfilling the Eighth Amendment narrowing requirements. Professor Grosso is also the consulting editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, a virtual home for exoneration stories and also an accessible, searchable statistical database about the cases, and was co-president of Society of American Law Teachers from 2020-2022. Professor Grosso was elected to the American Law Institute in 2022. She also has taught at Birzeit University in Palestine, and the University of Illinois College of Law. She studied at Earlham College and the University of Iowa College of Law.



Site Visit to the Fledge

Jerry Norris Photo.jpgJerry Norris is the CEO of the Fledge, a radically inclusive ideation and maker space, incubator and accelerator located in Lansing, MI. He also serves as the Chairman for the GAIA Solutions, and the Fledge Music Group. He spent 5 years as a “Gatekeeper” for the Business Acceleration Fund working with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and has a deep understanding of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the community at large. Jerry’s expertise includes software development, quality management, food safety management, automotive and aerospace related quality management, environmental protection and management, safety systems, regenerative economies, LEAN communities, blockchain, smart contracts and WEB3. Jerry obtained a B.S. in Statistics from the University of Michigan, with a focus on Computer Science.




DEI in Local Government- City of East Lansing

Ron Bacon.pngEast Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon was elected mayor in November of 2021. Mayor Bacon currently works for Genentech, a Roche Company in support of neuroscience. Bacon has worked in the biotechnology industry for nearly 20 years, and also has a background in youth counseling and juvenile courts. Bacon serves on the MLK Commission of Mid-Michigan, as well as the East Lansing Educational Foundation. He holds an MA in Organizational Leadership, and a BA in Criminal Justice/Sociology from Saginaw Valley State University.



Jessy Gregg.pngEast Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg was elected in November of 2021, and was first elected to the East Lansing City Council in 2019. Prior to this, she served on the Ingham County Parks and Recreation Commission from 2017-2019 as secretary and then vice chair, as well as serving on the East Lansing Arts Commission from 2017-2019. Gregg is the owner of Seams Fabric, is a former government reporter at East Lansing Info, and is also the founder of the Warrior Goddess Training Academy, in addition to being a professional artist. Gregg holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN.



American Culture, Race & Identity Workshop

Anna Peglar-Gordon.jpgProfessor Anna Pegler-Gordon is an Associate Professor at James Madison College. She teaches courses in Asian American history, immigration policy, citizenship, comparative race and ethnic relations, and U.S. racial and immigration history. She has received fellowships for her teaching and research, including national and international awards from the Organization of American Historians, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, and the Japanese Association for American Studies. Professor Pegler-Gordon’s first book, In Sight of America: Photography and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy (University of California Press, 2009) won the Immigration and Ethnic History Society’s Theodore Saloutos prize “for the book judged best on any aspect of the immigration history of the United States.” An American Quarterly drawn from this research was selected for inclusion as the lead essay in Best American History Essays. She is also completing work on her second book, a study of Asian immigrants at Ellis Island.


Transforming Theatre Ensemble: DEI & Critical Response Process

LynetteLammers-web.jpgLynn Lammers (she/her) is the Artistic Coordinator for the Transforming Theatre Ensemble (TTE) at MSU. She writes, directs, and produces interactive theatre pieces that are used as a focal point for dialogue and learning. Lynn has presented her work on interactive theatre at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity; the International Globalization, Diversity, and Education Conference; and the LaMaMa Director's Symposium in Umbria, Italy. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab and an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Lammers' professional regional theatre work includes directing at Williamston Theatre, Kickshaw Theatre, Flint Repertory Theatre, and Tipping Point Theatre, among others. She has a master’s degree in theatre history, literature, and criticism from MSU.


Gender, Race, & Community Development Panel Discussion

Rajalakshmi.jpegDr. Rajalakshmi Nadadur is a gender and development expert and serves as the Assistant Director for the Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen) at MSU. In this role, she manages the research team, maintains, and builds the existing network comprising of interdisciplinary scholars, various MSU departments and units, external partners, and provides program management support for gender transformative research. She also administers the Strategic Partnership Grants that foster global collaborations between MSU faculty and international partners. As a gender expert, her work focuses on gender mainstreaming, intersectionality and social inclusion through gender analyses and gender integration in the fields of education, livelihood, migration, and climate-resilience with field work in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Kenya, and Uganda. Before joining MSU, she was a Project Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and Japan in East Asia Program at the University of Tokyo. Since 2007, she has taught in various capacities at universities in the U.S., U.K., and Thailand. Between 2015 – 2019, she was also an affiliated researcher at the Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia, University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Outside academia, she has worked extensively in livelihood projects with urban refugee communities in Thailand, conducting participatory research, culture mapping, and providing tutoring and interpretation services to organizations including UN-ACT. She holds a PhD in Gender and Religion from the University of Stirling, U.K.


Magdalena Sofia Rivera has varied public servant experience that has shaped her deep passion for personal and community empowerment and remains the driving force behind her steadfast activism, especially when representing the underserved and underrepresented BIPOC members. With her dedication, attention to detail, and organizational and relationship-building skills, she desires to connect with community activists and grassroots organizations that prioritize improving the life expectancy outcomes for marginalized BIPOC members.  Magdalena has worked in various school community settings and nonprofit organizations for more than 30 years in Ottawa, Kent, and currently in Ingham County.   


Leadership Seminar

STAUB_MELISSA pic.jpgMelissa Staub is an experienced Project Manager and Human Resources Director at Michigan State University's College of Arts and Letters. She has a Bachelor of Arts in American Public Affairs: Political Economy from Michigan State University's James Madison College and a Master of Science in Administration: Project Management from Central Michigan University. Melissa has been in administrative staff positions at Michigan State University for over a decade.

Melissa has an extensive list of certifications and professional development training that showcases her dedication and expertise. Some notable achievements include being a Certified Human Resource Specialist and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. She is committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and has completed certifications in these areas, such as Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion in The Workplace Certification from the University of South Florida.

Melissa is also an experienced facilitator and presenter who is passionate about building a culture of care and trust within organizations and has presented on this topic to various audiences. She has facilitated CliftonStrengths group sessions and presented on topics such as Emotional Intelligence, Diversity Consciousness, and Building a Strategic Plan. She has also facilitated several sessions for visiting fellowship programs at Michigan State University, including the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the Advancing Young Women in Agribusiness Professional Fellows, Humphrey Fellowship, and the Bourlag Fellowship Programs, as well as the Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Civic Engagement.


Community Engaged Scholars Panel Discussion

BURNETT_Charla-3.jpgDr. Charla M. Burnett is a social scientist and research methodologist that focuses on citizen's science and resource allocation using geospatial technologies. She coordinates multilateral and bilateral international development projects from proposal development to implementation and evaluation. Her policy research and program design spans migration, the environment, and conflict resolution with experience working with international organizations in the Middle East and West Africa. She currently supports Michigan State University's International Development Research Agenda as a USAID Proposal Development Specialist for the department of Global Innovations in Development, Engagement, and Scholarship (Global IDEAS) where she facilitates multi-college/industry program design and proposal development.


CedricTaylorWeb_0.jpgProfessor Cedric Taylor is a sociologist and a documentary filmmaker, and a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Michigan. His scholarly and creative endeavors focus on racial health disparities, environmental justice, and visual sociology. A former president of the Michigan Sociological Association, Dr. Taylor is a public sociologist who employs documentary film, visual media, and storytelling to engage the wider community in conversations around inequality. He is the writer, director, and co-producer of "Nor Any Drop to Drink: Flint’s Water Crisis,” which has been screened throughout the country and internationally. Dr. Taylor holds the position of Associate Professor of Sociology at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan. He received a PhD from Michigan State University and MS and BS degrees from the University of West Indies in Jamaica. Read more about Dr. Taylor's work in social sustainability.


Neem_DTowngard6-TEN (2).jpgNaim Edwards directs MSU's first urban agriculture center - the Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning, and Innovation. He earned two biological science degrees from Morehouse College and the University of Michigan. His agriculture journey began while serving in the Peace Corps in Ecuador, where he worked in an organic coffee nursery, ecotourism, and helped start school gardens.



sayed.pngProfessor Linda Sayed is an assistant professor of Comparative Cultures and Politics at James Madison College (JMC). She is a core faculty member of the Muslim Studies Program, and affiliate faculty of the Center of Gender in Global Context, and the Global Studies Program. Prior to arriving to JMC, Professor Sayed was at New York University, where she taught courses on Islam, gender, nationalism, colonialism, and Middle East history and politics. She holds a master’s degree in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies from Columbia University.


Campus Life

Campus Life



Students will live on campus in Owen Hall, located in MSU's River Trail Neighborhood. This dormitory is ideal for students who desire a living environment conducive to study. Read more about Owen Hall and take a virtual room tour.

Owen Hall Features

Room Features:

  • Suite-style bathrooms
  • Single rooms
  • Weekly housekeeping
  • All rooms fully furnished
  • In-room Wi-Fi
  • Cable TV and high-speed internet included
  • Barrier-free housing
  • Co-ed floors

 Building Features:

  • Free laundry
  • 24/7 emergency maintenance
  • Wi-Fi in public areas
  • Air conditioning in public areas
  • Classrooms
  • Music practice room
  • TV lounge
  • Meeting space
  • Sparty's Refresh Cafe (Summer Hours Monday-Friday: 9am-4pm, Weekends: 11am-4pm. Visit for latest dining schedule updates)
  • Bike storage


MSU Campus Maps & Information

campus2.pngThe campus of Michigan State University is located in East Lansing on the banks of the Red Cedar River, and comprises a contiguous area of 5,200 acres. Built amid virgin forest, the campus opened in 1855. Today MSU's campus is home to 538 buildings.

To see more of MSU's beautiful campus, check out this virtual tour, featuring many short video clips and stories. Use the MSU interactive map to find various locations on campus, and read about campus safety.


More About Michigan State University

Michigan State University Spartans work to advance the common good with uncommon will. The nation's pioneer land-grant university, MSU began as a bold experiment that democratized higher education and helped bring science and innovation into everyday life. Today, MSU is one of the top research universities in the world and home to a diverse community of dedicated students, scholars, athletes, artists, scientists, leaders.

  • History & Strong Academics: Founded in 1855, MSU is one of the top research universities in the world. MSU offers more than 200 programs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional study in 17 degree-granting colleges.
  • Picturesque Campus: Our huge campus occupies 5,200 acres of land with 538 buildings. It is almost like a small city, but you will quickly feel at home on our stunning and safe campus. Summer is the best time to enjoy the beauty of our campus.   
  • American Campus Life: MSU is the largest residential college in the US. You will stay at one of the residential halls and have access to all facilities and experience American college life. Our residential halls offer great food options, high-speed internet, cable TV, and exciting sports, recreation, and entertainment opportunities.
  • Dedicated Faculty & Staff: Michigan State University employs approximately 5,300 dedicated faculty and academic staff who are there to support you.
  • Central Location: Our great location in East Lansing offers exciting field trips to the city and nature. Lansing, Michigan's capital city is only minutes away. Lake Michigan, the world's fifth-largest lake is only one hour away.
  • Diversity: Over 50,000 students come from all 50 states in the United States and more than 138 countries worldwide. You will make American as well as international friends all in one location.
  • Want to know what’s happening on campus during your visit? The MSU events calendar provides a daily list of campus events. Explore everything from art exhibitions to music concerts. 


MSU Bike Rentals

The MSU campus is very large, and riding a bike is a great way to get around. Bike rentals are available on campus through the MSU Bikes Service Center. Learn how to rent a bike at MSU. You can even reserve your bike online prior to your arrival!

Student Assistants

Student Assistants

Meet the MSU students who will serve as cultural ambassadors and classroom assistants during the 2024 SUSI program.



Bastien Headshot re.jpgSamantha Bastien


MSU Undergraduate
Year: Senior
Major: Social Studies Secondary Education

My life has been nothing if not 'Internationally American'. Having lived outside the U.S. for the majority of my life, I have had the privilege to experience unimaginable sights, cultures, and peoples in places like Thailand and France. So much so, that once I came to MSU as an adult, I faced a steep learning curve of the wonders of the States' own people and places. Finally, this fusion of cultures that I always embodied had finally been completed where my international experiences beautifully met my American origins. This also falls under my own personal passion of education as I aspire to be an educator, capable of building off of my plethora of experiences to best teach our own future of how incredible the world can actually be.



Alana Camila.jpgAlana Camila Hufnagel (she/her)


MSU Undergraduate

Year: Junior

Major: Arts and Humanities

Hi! My name is Camila (she/her), but normally I go by Cami. This August I will be entering my second year of college here at MSU… go green! My major is Arts and Humanities, and I am currently in the process of selecting an additional major. While my dad and I are from Michigan, my mom is from Peru. Because of this, I speak Spanish as my second language. My Peruvian heritage is very special to me, and I am lucky to have been able to visit Peru almost every year of my life! I love to have fun, be creative, dance, try new things, and most of all, travel. My family and I have enjoyed traveling to many countries in Europe, Asia, Central and South America. My heritage along with my opportunities to travel and experience parts of the world in and outside of the US has especially ignited my passion for culture, the arts, and community. I’m excited for all that SUSI 2023 is going to bring, and I look forward to welcoming all of the students to MSU!


Gantz Headshot.jpgKayla Gantz


MSU Undergraduate

Year: Senior

Major: French

I am eager to deepen my understanding of civic engagement and its role in shaping societies. Through this five-week intensive program, I hope to gain insights into how citizens have historically influenced the development of the United States through community organizing and social movements. My goal is to bring this enriched knowledge and perspective back to my home country and contribute to fostering civic engagement and community development. Moreover, I see this opportunity as a platform for building a global network with fellow student leaders, fostering cross-cultural understanding, and sharing ideas on effective civic engagement practices. I am enthusiastic about the cross-cultural collaborative learning environment, where I can engage with peers from diverse backgrounds and work on real-world problem-solving. In the classroom, I bring a passion for learning, a global perspective, and a willingness to actively contribute to discussions and collaborative projects. Having engaged in various community service initiatives and leadership roles in my classes here at MSU, I can offer a unique viewpoint on civic engagement and grassroots efforts.




Oliver Headshot.jpgZachary Oliver


MSU Undergraduate

Year: Junior

Major: Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy and International Relations (Double major

 SUSI is of interest to me as a PTCD major as its topics in the examination of America's history of communal organization and social movements aligns with the curriculum of this major, complimenting it and offering an opportunity for further learning. My existing familiarity with social and political organization in the United States as a student of political science could prove to be beneficial to the program as I am enabled by my knowledge to meaningfully engage program participants in discussion and general participation in the collaborative learning of the program.



Atkins.jpgBrittany Atkins


MSU Graduate Student

Hi! My name is Brittany and I am a graduate student here at MSU. My research area primarily involves Black horror media (film, literature and comics) and the formations of monstrosity within these cannons. Part of this research also touches on how these ideas translate in global contexts and as such I’m also motivated by the constructions of communities within academic and personal contexts. Being an international student myself, I find it of utmost importance to have a space where I can exist with like-minded folks who share similar values as me and I look forward to SUSI allowing me such an access a global community. I’m also looking forward to being introduced to and experiencing non-North American cultures and sharing my own multicultural knowledge and background. I am eagerly anticipating the mutual exchange of knowledge that will occur in SUSI’s spaces!





Nicole Koyuki Golden


MSU PhD Student in Writing, Rhetoric, and Cultures

Nicole earned her MA in Rhetoric and Writing Studies from San Diego State University with a specialization in the teaching of writing. Her research interests include Asian American rhetorics, technical and professional communication, and writing studies. Aside from academics, Nicole enjoys crafting, being outdoors, and trying new foods.


Community Member Partners

Community Member Partners

Meet our Community Member Partners (CMPs), local organizations where the SUSI students will be engaging in community service.

Cristo Rey Community Center

It is Cristo Rey Community Center’s mission to care for the spiritual and social needs of individuals and families by offering services that encourage self-sufficiency and recognize the dignity of the human person.

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Engage with SUSI

Home Hospitality Visits

An important goal of the SUSI program is cultural exchange between the U.S. and Europe among our young people. Thank you to the local families who have hosted home hospitality visits over the years. The 2024 SUSI home hospitality visit will take place on Saturday, July 20. If you are interested in hosting or to learn more, email Program Coordinator James Magee at mageeja(at) and check out the 2024 SUSI Home Hospitality Program Flyer (PDF).

The SUSI students enjoyed visiting with American families, and taking part in fun summer activities. Read more about the SUSI students' home hospitality experiences on Facebook.

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Civic Engagement

The SUSI students put their civic engagement learning into practice by volunteering at the Metro Lansing Poor People's Campaign, the Refugee Development Center, Lake Lansing Park, and visiting the Lansing Solar Farm. Check out the Facebook post to see more photos from their service learning experiences!

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SUSI Music Evening

The SUSI students enjoyed sharing their musical talents with the local community when they organized, presented, and hosted a Music Evening at MSU's Summer Circle Theatre!

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MSU Summer Celebrations

The SUSI students were treated to a summer BBQ at Lake Lansing Park hosted by VIPP where they had the opportunity to socialize with members of the MSU community and students in the German Fulbright Summer Institute, and celebrate some birthdays Spartan-style!


Follow the SUSI Journey

Visit the institute webpage to take the learning journey offered by the program during the summer of 2023. Contact VIPP if you need more information at vipp(at)



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