International office welcomes new staff member

Denise Wright

Visitors to the Office of International Affairs may be surprised to be greeted by an unfamiliar face. The office recently filled a staff opening after Melissa Hughes, former immigration compliance specialist, left the position at the end of the 2006-07 school year.

Kent State alumnus Tafara Burutsa was hired for the position early last month and was in the office for his first day Oct. 22.

The job was first advertised in July on various Web sites for international educators and the Kent State career opportunities page, where Burutsa said he found the posting.

Amy Bode, international student and scholar adviser, said she was on a search committee with Theodore McKown, director of international recruitment and admissions, and Debra Lyons, manager of international student and scholar services. The committee was extensively involved in the hiring process.

“We started looking at résumés in August and narrowed it down in September,” Lyons said. “We did some phone interviews in September and the face-to-face interviews in early October.”

After being informed of receiving the position, Burutsa immediately began the transition into the office, which he said involves a great deal of training.

“I started off with reading the adviser’s manual, which has been a couple hundred pages of reading,” Burutsa said. “It’s really not that much though.”

He has also been shadowing several advising appointments and meeting with various faculty members on campus, including staff in Career Services, Residence Services and the English as a Second Language department.

Burutsa said some of his other responsibilities are planning the office’s Winter Wondering event and coordinating the International Hospitality Program, which Hughes was responsible for in the past.

He also said he has devoted a large chunk of time to getting familiar with Banner, the software that is now used to run FlashLine.

“I sort of tease him and ask if he plans on coming back each time,” Lyons said. “I think it’s information overload.”

She said every day is a training day for Burutsa.

“It’s like that for everyone in the office,” she said. “No day is ever the same and there’s exceptions to everything. It’s so much information to take in, but he’s doing great with it.”

Lyons said Burutsa is set to end training and get into the position more in December as the end of the semester approaches.

Bode said she thinks he will be extremely helpful in assisting her and Lyons with advising.

“I think he’s going to be a good fit for our office,” she said. “We’re happy to have him as part of our team.”

Contact honors and international affairs reporter Denise Wright at [email protected]