Marissa Ruhno, M.A. (Candidate) is a current graduate student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) and is pursuing a degree in International Education Management. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Coastal Carolina University (CCU) in Languages and Intercultural Studies with a concentration in Spanish and Russian in 2020. During her undergraduate studies she became friends with an international student from Croatia. After visiting her for the first time, Marissa realized the passion she had for traveling and learning about other cultures. During her undergraduate studies, she spent every winter break traveling to Europe to visit various countries including Croatia, Spain, Italy, France, Serbia and Hungary. In Spring of 2019, she studied abroad at the Don Quijote schools in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. There she improved her Spanish language, while also learning about sustainability, agriculture and the history of local communities. That summer, she attended MIIS for the first time after being accepted into the Russian Summer Intensive Language Program. She developed a deeper understanding of Russian language and culture by spending eight weeks studying the language intensively. After graduating from CCU and taking a gap year, Marissa knew she wanted to return to MIIS. She was accepted into the International Education Management program in Spring of 2022.
Positionality and responsibility. As a graduate research assistant I am working on qualitative data collection by conducting interviews with queer international students regarding their experiences studying in the United States. My interest in this project stems from my personal connection to the LGBTQ+ community. As a lesbian woman, I empathize with other queer students and how their sexuality impacts their experiences. I believe there should be more accessible information available and greater efforts to promote the inclusion of LGBTQ+ international students in the U.S. I feel passionate about creating more awareness on this topic, and I am thrilled to be a part of this team. While conducting this research I am committed to maintaining the confidentiality of all participants involved and upholding ethical practices for their safety and respect. I have completed the CITI course in Social and Behavioral Research.