SIA alum Ryan Fleming helps solve problems for international students

—By S. Gouri Srinidhi

When it comes time to graduate from the master of international affairs (MIA) program, students hope to find work that is tailored to their passions and international interests. For some SIA graduates, like Ryan Fleming '11, that hope has become a reality.
Fleming hails from Batavia, New York, and holds a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish from SUNY University at Buffalo. He currently works as an international student and scholar advisor through the Office of Global Education at Kent State University in Ohio where he serves as an advocate for international student issues, and works to the increase the internationalization of the university.
Along with advising F and J visa holders on immigration-related issues, Fleming also serves as a global representative of the university at student recruitment fairs which occasionally takes him abroad, including a recent five-city trip across India.
Fleming discovered his passion for international education during his studies at Penn State's School of International Affairs. Through course work with Ambassador Dennis Jett, he began to cultivate a special curiosity for diplomacy, soft and hard power, and the power of education to influence larger diplomatic connections.
Fleming notes that his interaction with international peers and his academic and social collaboration with students throughout the time he spent in the program is the simplest form of grassroots diplomacy. As a former editor and co-founder, Fleming is especially proud of his association with the Penn State Global Forum, the graduate student run blog on international affairs. He also interned at the University Office of Global Programs in the Directorate of International Student Advising (DISA) during his time in the SIA program.
“I owe my professional start to Ms. Masume Assaf, the director of DISA, and to Dr. Tineke Cunning for helping me to clarify my goals and methods for attaining them,” said Fleming.
Offering a word of advice to students currently in the program, Fleming underscored the importance of cultivating relationships with other SIA students: “Some of the brightest, most insightful people I know were SIA classmates of mine.”
Fleming's interests are not confined to a particular geographic region, but rather are shaped by goings-on in the international education field.“I follow foreign policy goings-on very closely and take an interest in areas of the world that have large student populations studying in the United States, as well as trying to prognosticate areas or boutique markets that may be ripe for recruitment in the next five to ten years,” said Fleming.
Fleming's passion in international affairs is matched by his pride in his alma mater. “Penn State is a monument to achievement that anchors the entire state of Pennsylvania,” said Fleming. “It is a place where, cliché aside, you become a part of something greater than yourself. That truth – that sense of belonging – forms the bedrock of the Penn State community.”

Fleming lives in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with his wife Jocelyn and 11-month-old son Liam.