International Student Services department promises increased enrollment and multi-cultural experiences for students

Published: 07/31/2019


As the newly-appointed director of St. Charles Community College’s International Student Services (ISS) Department, part of Virginia Guneyli’s job is to recruit students from all over the world to attend SCC. The department is under the purview of Dave Leenhouts, the new vice president for student services, and promises to increase enrollment, add diversity to the student body and benefit the wider community.

Guneyli joins her associate, Laurie Bernardy, international student specialist, who has been at SCC for 18 years. Bernardy’s experience includes years as a designated student officer (DSO) and expertise in intake, advising and delivery of support services.

Guneyli is a former English professor with a background in world literature and ESL instruction and has extensive experience abroad herself – she has lived in Mexico and Turkey and can relate to incoming international students. She possesses experience in program development, partnerships, recruiting, and academics. 

According to recent studies, the presence of international students has a significant economic impact on a region. In the greater metropolitan St. Louis region it is estimated that foreign student enrollment can provide as much as $232.2 million in economic benefits to the community.

Bucking a national trend which saw foreign student enrollment drop by 7% in 2017 and another 3% in 2018, SCC has increased international student enrollment approximately 20% since last year.

The greater St. Louis area also represents a desirable location for international students for other reasons, including a growing job market willing to sponsor educated employees for an H-1B visa. 

Guyneyli credits the success of SCC’s International Program’s to its status as a “best fit” for a wider audience of students, including those previously unable to attend and pay for the premium tuitions charged to international students at most four-year American universities.

“For international students,” Guneyli said, “St. Charles Community College offers a transformative, quality educational experience that’s affordable.”

“The region is filled with great four-year colleges, and SCC has conditional admission agreements with many of these institutions, including Lindenwood, Missouri State, Mizzou, Fontbonne and Missouri Valley,” she said. “Students are automatically granted conditional admission to these institutions by enrolling at SCC, and SCC credits transfer with ease.”

The ISS Department’s mission is focused on each individual student as they seek a degree or certificate that enables them to transfer or join the workforce, but its role spans beyond recruiting and aims to make the entire international student experience easier and more seamless.

“Imagine an incoming student from another country, thinking, ‘What is the community like? Where will I live? I have no driver’s license, no credit history, and no income.  How will I arrange for even basic things before I even arrive on campus?’ It’s our job to guide students through the registration and academic advising process,” said Guneyli, “as well as help them navigate through a different culture and in a different language, whether those students are coming to SCC or they are going abroad to study.”

Study abroad programs – where students live and study abroad for a full semester and receive course credits from St. Charles Community College – are also part of the ISS mission. Guneyli is busy managing two: a 14-week study abroad in Canterbury, England, at Canterbury Christ Church University (offered in partnership with the Missouri Consortium of Global Education) and a 17-week program at Institute of Technology Carlow near Dublin, Ireland. Prospective students and their families can meet Donal McCalistair – from Institute of Technology Carlow – and learn about the 17-week program at the open house at 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, in the Daniel J. Conoyer Social Sciences Building.

“Taking a different path to higher education in the U.S. is attractive to many international families,” Guneyli said. “Students can live in a desirable location near our beautiful and safe suburban campus and will now be able to take advantage of our new student housing – available beginning Dec. 1. For international students uncertain of their academic path or just beginning it, our International Program at SCC opens a lot of doors.  For our domestic students, the presence of international students offers diversity that fulfills the college mission and enriches their educational experience.”

For more information, contact Guneyli at 636-922-8617 or

Learn more about International Student Services at Follow International Student Services on Facebook at @stchascciss, on Instagram at @stchascciss and on Twitter at @iss_scc.


SCC logo

4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive
Cofttleville, MO 63376

© 2019 St. Charles Community College.