Director of the Office for International Students and Scholars
Years at EMU
Why You Like Working Here
We have a lot of wonderful people to work with. They’re very friendly, very supportive and very student focused. I love my job because I'm helping students who have walked my path. I came here as an international student myself in 1991 and I've gone through all these academic culture shocks. I like giving back and supporting the students. It's been an interesting ride.
Favorite EMU Moment
My favorite part will always be the orientation and graduation. It's fabulous working with the students, seeing them grow and succeed and fulfill their dreams. When I graduated and walked down the aisle and then had the commencement, it was just a wonderful experience, and I can imagine my students doing the same thing. That's the best part.
I am lucky to have quite a few mentors in my life who supported me. My mentor when I was in the graduate program literally changed the way I see the world. It inspired me to help others going forward. If I help you and support you, you can do the same thing for the next person and another person. If you pay it forward, the world would be a better place.
Esther is not my birth name. My first name is Lai and my middle name is Fun. It kind of sounds like “life is fun.” And when you flip my last name, Gunel, backwards, it turns into my maiden name.
I hope I can bring the culture and all the knowledge about the world to campus. I’d like to have an event in the Student Center with different countries presenting and talking about their culture. We’ve done one in February 2020 before the lockdown, and we had about 250 to 300 students come. Many of them were domestic students and they loved it. I hope I could duplicate it and bring awareness to culture, diversity, inclusion and to help the people to understand more about the globe.
I'm a realistic person, I don't think I can have any superpower. But I would like to make everyone feel that they are valuable and they have a lot to contribute.
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