University of Delaware

Institute for Global Studies

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2013 MEPI Staff

Lesa Griffiths
Academic Director of the Institute

Professor Lesa Griffiths received her B.S. from Cornell University and M.S. and Ph.D. from Purdue University. She is a professor of animal science and served as the Associate Dean for Academic Programs prior to being appointed Director of the University of Delaware Institute for Global Studies and Associate Provost for International Programs, a position she held for almost 10 years. In 2011, Professor Griffiths returned to the faculty so that she could spend more time mentoring students. 

Professor Lesa has been recognized many times for her work with students, both in the classroom and out. Her awards include the U.S.D.A. National Award for Teaching Excellence, the University of Delaware Excellence-in-Teaching Award and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Outstanding Teaching Award. She has also been recognized for her work outside the classroom with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Student Council Academic Advisor Award and the Outstanding Advisor Award for a Club Sport (Equestrian Team). Purdue University has recognized Dr. Griffiths as one of their Distinguished Alumni. Professor Lesa developed the University's first study abroad program to New Zealand and has accompanied over 130 students on study abroad programs focused on international agriculture.

Originally from New York State, Professor Lesa lives on a small farm in the state of Maryland (just a few miles from Delaware.) She has twins who are second-year engineering students at UD. In her spare time she enjoys collecting relics of American agriculture, gardening, reading, sewing and crafting. The family volunteers with a local animal shelter for homeless pets - welcoming those pets into their home until they can be adopted.


James Magee is a professor in the Political Science and International Relations Department at the University of Delaware. He was the first academic director of the University of Delaware's MEPI Institute and again in 2008—2012. MEPI programs have been among the most rewarding experiences of his entire academic career: “These remarkably talented young men and women teach me more about their fascinating and diverse worlds—and about life itself—than anything they learn from me."

Born and raised in Boston Massachusetts, Prof. James received his PhD from the University of Virginia, where he was a Thomas Jefferson Fellow. At UD, he teaches courses in United States government and politics, constitutional law, civil rights and liberties, and the Supreme Court. From 2002 until 2007, he was the Chair of his department. He has traveled extensively, especially in Europe.  He directed or co-directed sixteen UD Study Abroad programs in Italy since 1982 (most recently in January 2012). In 1990, he was a visiting professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Trent in northern Italy, and in 1985 a Salzburg Fellow for three weeks in Austria. In conjunction with MEPI programs, he visited Tunis, Cairo, and Istanbul. He has conducted programs, similar to MEPI, in South America for the United States Department of State, through its Fulbright Commission, in Cusco, Peru, and Bogotá, Columbia—both of which were intensive two-week programs in the spring of 2008.

Prof. James enjoys his family, swimming, learning from his students, and most kinds of music (especially Italian and French classical opera). He has been recognized five times by the University of Delaware for excellence in teaching and mentoring undergraduate students.  He was also named Outstanding Registered Student Organizations Advisor and received Mortar Board’s Outstanding Faculty Award. He has published two books: one on freedom of expression and another on the jurisprudence of former Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black. He is working on a third, examining the judicial philosophy and behavior of current Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. And he is very much excited about meeting every one of you!!


Audrey Helfman
Audrey Helfman
Leadership Training Director
of the Institute and
Associate Professor


Jonathan Keyser
Dan Bottomley
Associate Director for Global Contracts and Grants
Institute for Global Studies

Dan Bottomley is the Associate Director for Global Contracts and Grants at UD’s Institute for Global Studies. This is his first year working with the MEPI Student Leaders Program students, faculty, and staff and he is really excited to have the opportunity to meet all of the new MEPIs who will be coming to UD this summer. 

A native of Rockford, Illinois, Dan spent his childhood and undergraduate life in the Midwest, but moved to Delaware to pursue his graduate studies and get away from the frigid winters of Illinois (wind chill is the worst!)  Dan’s background is in political science with a focus on Southeast Asian politics, and he spent parts of last summer and fall conducting research in Indonesia on the relationship between Islam and Indonesian nationalism. 

When not working, Dan enjoys spending time with his wife Caitlin (they will be celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary at the very beginning of the program this year), taking his dogs Simon and Louie for walks, and relaxing at his house in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  Dan is also an enthusiastic traveler who likes to meet new people and experience foreign cultures throughout the world.  In fact, he has set a personal goal of getting at least one new stamp on his passport every year and can’t wait to have the opportunity to visit your home country sometime soon!


Jonathan Keyser

Jonathan Keyser
Administrative Coordinator

Jonathan Keyser is a Program Coordinator for contracts and grants at the Institute for Global Studies and recent graduate of the University of Delaware. Mr. Keyser previously earned his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in International Relations from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana and his Master of Science (MS) in Political Science from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. Presently, Jonathan's primary work responsibilities entail planning and executing sponsored international exchange programs including MEPI.

One of Jonathan's primary professional responsibilities is to work as a Program Coordinator for the Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a position that he proudly held since 2010. Jonathan recently completed his first trip to the MENA region and remains fascinated by the cultural diversity and historical significance of the region. Jonathan's other travel experiences include visits to Canada and Cuba to participate in various conferences as well as Mexico, where Jonathan partook in a cultural and language immersion program in 2004.

Jonathan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 8, 1984 and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jon currently resides in Newark, Delaware and his immediate family includes an older sister, brother-in-law, newborn niece as well as his mother and father. Jon's ethnic background is predominantly Greek and he considers Greek culture and tradition to be important aspects of his identity. In his leisure time, Jon enjoys family, traveling, watching television, playing sports, spending time with his dog Marley and learning about other cultures.

Juliana de Affonseca
Meghan Morrow
Undergraduate Peer Mentor

Meghan Morrow grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York called Cazenovia. During her high school years, Meghan had the opportunity to travel to Spain several times and her last year of high school, she moved to Barcelona, Spain. Meghan then came to University of Delaware in 2009 to study Spanish Literature and Language and expects to graduate in May of 2013. While studying Spanish at the University of Delaware, Meghan worked for the university as a Teaching Assistant and as a Resident Assistant. She also studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a semester. Meghan plans to continue her education at UD in the fall in the Teaching English as a Second Language, M.A graduate program.

Meghan loves trying new things and seeks out ways to “get out of her comfort zone”, however there are some things she could not live without. She finds joy in cooking for others, reading, traveling and meeting friends at coffee shops in Newark. Her favorite way to spend time in the summer is riding horses and enjoying the outdoors. On the weekends, Meghan loves visiting Philadelphia to explore the city's architecture and art museums, and of course, try exotic food. Meghan has found a wonderful church in Delaware that she considers to be her home away from home as her family now lives in central Pennsylvania.

You will find that Meghan takes all opportunities to meet new people, learn about new cultures and pick up new words in foreign languages. A great way to get to know Meghan is by sitting down for a coffee and exchanging stories and building a friendship. She is very eager and excited to get to know all the students coming to UD this summer!


Doris Carrion

Dustin Parrett
Graduate Peer Mentor

Dustin Parrett is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Delaware.  He received his B.S. in Political Science from Northern Kentucky University and received his M.A. in Political Science from the University of Delaware.  Currently he is working on finishing his dissertation on international organizations and is teaching a course on Comparative Politics.  He has ambitions of teaching at a university when he finishes his PhD, but would also like to work abroad. 

Dustin is a Kentucky native and grew up just outside of Cincinnati.  He has spent the last five years living in Delaware, but still cheers for his hometown sports teams.  When not busy with work, Dustin enjoys listening to music.  He enjoys all genres of music and especially enjoys discovering artists and styles he hasn’t heard before.  Dustin is also an avid reader.  He typically reads nonfiction and political books, but also enjoys the occasional work of fiction.  Dustin fills the rest of his time by spending it with friends and takes trips back to the Bluegrass state whenever he has the chance. 


Rachel Garcia
Katherine Anderson
Graduate Peer Mentor

Katherine Anderson is a Master’s candidate at the University of Delaware, specializing in Political Communication. A seasoned Blue Hen, Katherine also received her B.S. in Interpersonal Communication and French Studies from UD. She is subsequently very knowledgeable about Newark and the surrounding area. If you have a specific question or are searching for a novel recommendation, Katherine can usually provide the meaningful feedback you need. There is a reason her friends jokingly refer to her as a cruise director. In addition to her role as a student, Katherine teaches public speaking to 50 undergraduate students each semester. This experience has proven to be one of the most challenging and rewarding of her collegiate career.

In the spirit of trying new things, Katherine has picked up a wide variety of interests and hobbies over the years. She can hold her own while snowboarding and has been known to play the occasional game of Dungeons and Dragons. When not tucked away in a corner of Morris library, Katherine can typically be found at a local coffee shop. Brew HaHa is a personal favorite. She uses these venues to flip through worn magazines and plan her next adventure. Thus far, Katherine has traveled to England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates. That being said, some of her favorite adventures have taken place in the United States. If you have a free moment, ask her about celebrating New Years in Times Square or about spending a week at a Buddhist monastery in West Virginia.


James Magee
Michele Myers
Graduate Peer Mentor

Michaele Myers is a native of the West Coast, having been lucky enough to call Portland, Oregon, Phoenix, Arizona, and most recently, Seattle, Washington her homes. Michaele attended the University of Arizona for her BA, where she received her degree in History with Honors and minored in Political Science (2007). Her goals of becoming a scholar were put on hold when she traveled to Sheffield, United Kingdom to work on a MA in Magazine Journalism at The University of Sheffield (2008). After experiencing the real world for a few years, Michaele revived her scholarly pursuits. She is currently a MA student in Communication at the University of Delaware, where she is not only a student but an instructor of public speaking for engineering majors. Upon graduation in 2014, she will go forward with her PhD to become a researcher and professor. Her focus of study is Political Communication, with an interest in how political comedy impacts how viewers perceive lesser-known candidates.

It should come as no surprise that Michaele loves to travel, talk politics and make jokes. If you ever miss an episode of The Colbert Report, she’s the person to ask what happened – down to the best jokes of the night. She is still relatively new to the East Coast and looks forward to getting to learn the ropes of the area and visiting all the lovely sites. When not working on her thesis, Michaele can be found cooking, drinking tea, enjoying indie rock music, and hanging out with her favorite Newark friends.


Ryan McCabe
Ryan McCabe
Senior Graduate Peer Mentor

Ryan McCabe was born and raised in a small, rural town in Northeastern Wisconsin. Mr. McCabe attended Catholic school until the age of 14, and then attended the local high school in his town. Ryan studied Anthropology and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, earning his B.A. in 2008. He was also a McNair Scholar at Marquette University from 2006 through 2008. Ryan is currently working on his PhD in the department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. His research focuses on political extremism, national-populism, and social movements in contemporary democratic societies. Ryan also has a general interest in European history, immigration politics, and religious studies. As a teaching assistant at UD, Ryan has taught courses on American Politics and Data Analysis.

Aside from his Academic work and studies, Ryan enjoys many leisure activities. Primarily, he enjoys hanging out with his friends, meeting new people, and spending time with his family. Ryan also enjoys watching sports, mostly football and baseball. Whenever he gets the chance, Ryan loves to travel. He has been to many places within the United States, as well as Germany and the Netherlands. In the future, Ryan would like to travel to the Middle East and Latin America. To relax, Ryan enjoys reading, cooking, and writing. He also loves all types of music, including Rock and Roll, Hip Hop, and Folk.

Ryan is the middle child in a family with two brothers. He also has a nephew that is two years old. All of his family lives in Wisconsin. Ryan loves to go home and visit them every year for Christmas and for a few weeks in the summer. When he is back home in Wisconsin, Ryan loves to go camping with his friends and attending the numerous village festivals held in his region throughout the summer months. He also enjoys spending time with his family cooking large meals, hosting parties, and playing with his nephew.


Ryan McCabe
Kevin Costa
Undergraduate Peer Mentor
Resident Assistant

Kevin Costa is a sophomore at the University of Delaware studying International Relations and International Business.  At the University, he has had the opportunity to work as a Blue Hen Ambassador tour guide, a Diversity Enrichment Leader, a Peer Mentor, and a Resident Assistant. Kevin grew up in Commack, New York on Long Island, and has spent a month abroad in Verviers, Belgium and Genève, Switzerland.  Kevin studies both French and Arabic and hopes to work in the Maghreb as a Foreign Service Officer or in the Peace Corps after graduating. 

Kevin loves to dabble in new things and strongly believes that, "you never know until you try it".  Through trying new things, he has discovered his love for Turkish cuisine, escargots, and Gruyère cheese.  It will not take long to discover that Kevin loves to eat almost anything.  Among other things, Kevin loves to bike, run, and swim (although he is not very good at swimming) and is excited to explore White Clay Creek and many other outdoor areas with everyone in the program.  Kevin is a world traveler, having already visited Paris, Lyon, Munich, Barcelona, Rome, Brussels, and İstanbul.  In the future, he hopes to add gain new experiences in many more cities around the world. 

It will be easy to discover that Kevin loves interacting with new and diverse people, and you will find that Kevin is quite the character himself.  His passion for languages will be demonstrated with his constant and persistent attempts to speak them whenever possible.  He hopes that outside the classroom and MEPI events, participants will immerse him in their culture as much as they are being immersed in American culture.  Kevin's biggest drive is the passion to forge understanding through cultures, and even healthy debate.  He is experienced with Model United Nations and knows that the best way to learn to understand is to sit down over a good meal, and talk it out.  Kevin is ecstatic to have the opportunity to get to know all of the participants in the MEPI program and he wishes June 26 would get here faster. 


Ryan McCabe
Madinah Wilson
Undergraduate Peer Mentor
Resident Assistant

A native of Delaware, Madinah Wilson has five sisters (four younger) and will be joined at UD next year by one of them. Madinah attended Islamic school for her primary education, where she learned to read and write Arabic at a young age. She attended the Charter School of Wilmington for high school, where she studied French and Spanish language and was a member of the National Honor Society and National French Honor Society.

Madinah Wilson is entering her junior year as an International Relations major at the University of Delaware, her specialization is the Middle East and her concentration is on development. She has minors in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin) and Islamic Studies and loves studying foreign languages. On campus she gives tours for the Admissions Office as a Blue Hen Ambassador and Diversity Enrichment Leader. She is the president of the Muslim Students’ Association and Co-Founder of Students for Justice in Palestine at UD. She works as a Resident Assistant for the “International House” at the university, a residence hall for students of all backgrounds to live with, and learn from, each other.

Madinah loves to learn about different cultures through music and dance, and she hopes to travel the world someday. Her iPod is a crazy mix of everything from Rashed el-Majed, Don Omar, NIИ, Michael Jackson to Kenny Chesney and many more! She enjoys learning new recipes and has tried her hand at a variety of different cuisines. She has a long list of movies she still wants to see, some of her favorites or Pocahontas, Avatar and the Star Wars sega. She loves stand-up comedy and often spends her free time watching her favorite comedians on youtube.

Madinah enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and values her relationships with them. Her friends often joke that they do not consider her to be American because she is so good at switching languages and has been nicknamed the “chameleon.” Many of her friends joke that she is “as Yemeni as can be.” She is a social butterfly, and has met many interesting people because of this. Madinah comes from a rich heritage of diverse backgrounds and loves learning more about her ancestors from her older relatives and through literature.



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  • Institute for Global Studies  •   Elliott Hall, 26 East Main Street  •   Newark, DE 19716  •   USA
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