UW-La Crosse international education office receives state honor

2020 Uwl Vanessa Mbuyi Democratic Republic Of Congo Flag Raising 0040
UWL Senior Vanessa Mbuyi Kaja raises the flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first time on campus during a December 2020 ceremony. The flag’s addition to the group of international flags on Badger Street was among the many accomplishments for the International Education & Engagement Office, which has received the state’s 2021 Hong Rost Memorial Leadership Award for Innovation in International Education Student Services.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse International Education & Engagement Office has received a top state honor — one named after a UW-L alum.

The Wisconsin Association of International Educators has awarded the IEE office the 2021 Hong Rost Memorial Leadership Award for Innovation in International Education Student Services. The annual award recognizes an outstanding professional or group in Wisconsin who embodies the dedication and passion of Hong Rost.

Rost received a master’s degree from UW-L in 1994 and worked as assistant director of international education on campus until 2010, when she became the director of international education at UW-Stout. Rost died in a car accident in 2014 and the award was created in her honor in 2015.

Rost was known as an energetic and innovative leader, according to UW-L.

Karolyn Bald, interim director of UW-L IEE, says the honor was welcome news following a tumultuous year that saw her take over the reins at the beginning of the year. With a pandemic and declining international numbers due to changes in U.S. policies, staff was reduced and they developed a stronger recruiting partnership with international admissions counselors.

“Having known Hong and the tremendous energy she exuded, she would have been very proud of your commitment, drive and perseverance this year,” Bald said. “Despite a challenging year, you all pulled together and re-imagined international education programs, student support and recruitment.”