Four International Students Receive Mestenhauser Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization

Posted: May 3, 2023

Two students from the Twin Cities campus and two students from the Crookston campus of the University of Minnesota have been awarded The Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization. This award recognizes outstanding student contributions to international education. It acknowledges important work being done by students at the University of Minnesota to internationalize the curriculum and campus.

The Mestenhauser Student Award honors the late Emeritus Professor Dr. Josef Mestenhauser, who dedicated his career to advocacy for and commitment to students. 

This years recipients— Akash Dhotre, Ariadna Mondragón Botero, Madeleine Schneider, and Tseten Gurung— have demonstrated a commitment to international education and have been involved in programs and activities that contribute to the University of Minnesota's mission of fostering global competence and developing global citizens.

Akash Dhotre

Headshot of Akash Dhotre

Akash Dhotre is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is currently working on a new class of carbon-neutral fuels. Akash is the co-president of the Mechanical Engineering (ME) Grad Council, where he serves as a link between the department and international graduate students and helps those students acclimate to campus life. Akash is dedicated to addressing issues in his field, such as female representation and mental health. He also serves as a mentor to undergraduate and high school students—particularly those interested in STEM and those who speak English as a second language. Akash is involved in several groups and organizations around campus, including Small World Coffee Hour, Council of Graduate Students (COGS), Chess Club, English Club, and ME Graduate Student Association.

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Ariadna Mondragón Botero

headshot of Ariadna

Ariadna Mondragón Botero is a Ph.D. student studying Plant and Microbial Biology in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Ariadna has been working on forest restoration in Madagascar for the last four years, experiencing firsthand a diverse culture in a remote country. She wrote a case study for restoration ecology and has taught it to multiple classes, sparking conversations about how socio-political issues affect science development in different countries. Along with two of her colleagues, Ariadna is developing a children’s book about the ecology of the dry forest. She recently applied for a grant to publish and print copies of this book, which will be distributed to school children worldwide. Ariadna is an international student from Colombia and is passionate about sharing all the country has to offer. She has volunteered with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), speaking about traditional Colombian music, as well as with Global Minnesota through their Classroom Connection Volunteer program promoting an appreciation of international diversity.

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Madeleine Schneider

headshot of Madeleine Schneider

Madeleine Schneider is an international student from Germany studying Software Engineering and Information Technology Management at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Madeleine quickly recognized the need for intercultural programming on campus and she began to get involved. She has organized several events including a German “language corner” where she was able to share a bit of her own culture and language. She is an enthusiastic leader committed to internationalizing the Crookston campus. Madeleine is currently the President of the Multicultural International Club, which promotes cultural sensitivity and awareness, connects domestic students with international students, and creates a community for students away from their home countries. In addition to that she is a Community Advisor on campus. Through this role, she is able to bring an international perspective to leadership and campus programming. Madeleine is also a member of the UMN Crookston women’s tennis team.

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Tseten Gurung

Headshot of Tseten Gurung

Tseten Gurung is an undergraduate student majoring in Information Technology Management with a minor in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance in the Math, Science, and Technology Department at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Tseten is an international student from Nepal. She is the Vice President of the Multicultural International Club (MIC) where she organizes events for students and the campus community to learn about different cultures from around the world. One of these events included inviting a Buddhist monk from Nepal to create a sand mandala during diversity week on the Crookston campus. This program provided a great opportunity for students and surrounding community members to learn about the different cultural tradition. In addition to serving the MIC, she is the Lead Community Advisor for Residential Life, the Secretary of the Crookston Student Association, a tutor, Student Tech support at the Computer Help Desk, and a student leader for International Programs. Through her many roles on campus, Tseten works toward encouraging to share of diverse cultures from around the world and fostering an inclusive environment where international students feel at home.

Watch Tseten's digital story