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International Student & Scholar Services

Staff Bios

Claudia Evelyn Sotomayor , Director
Claudia Sotomayor Graves was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She came to the United States as an international student beginning her studies at Richland College. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Master’s degree in Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management both from Southern Methodist University. Claudia has been in the International Higher Education field for more than 12 years also serving NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Claudia believes that international students, professors and their families are essential to enhancing the experiences of current SMU students, professors and staff by sharing their values and cultures. She hopes all international students and professors find the opportunity to also learn the values of the United States creating a true exchange of experiences and cultural understanding as we respect our differences and embrace our similarities. It is Claudia’s goal as the Director of the ISSS Office to create an environment where all students feel they are home when they visit our office. Claudia is fluent in English and Spanish and has studied French.

Anna Marzillo,
Assistant Director

Anna Marzillo was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and moved to Dallas, Texas in 1987. Anna has raised 3 wonderful children in Dallas and has worked in the SMU International Student & Scholar Services office since 2001 serving as the SEVIS Database Manager and Assistant Director. Anna always enjoys meeting and providing services to all the new students and their families every semester that come from 89 different countries!

Stephanie Hernandez,Sr. Manager, Immigration Advising & Services
Stephanie Hernandez was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in California. She came to Texas while she was still in high school. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and has been working with international students since 2010. Stephanie enjoys learning the different customs and traditions that students bring from their home countries. She seeks to make international students’ experiences in the U.S. as enjoyable as possible. Stephanie is fluent in Spanish and English.

Anna Lippard,
Sr. Manager, Programming
Anna Lippard is from Gaffney, South Carolina, and has lived in Bratislava, Slovakia and Washington D.C. before moving to Dallas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in History in 2010 from Coker College, where she discovered a love of learning about other cultures through meeting international students on campus and through study abroad. Anna completed a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Bratislava, Slovakia 2010-2011, teaching high school students conversational English and volunteering with EducationUSA. Anna earned a Master’s degree in International Training and Education in 2014 from American University, focusing on international student exchange and minority education. Anna is excited to meet, work with, and design programs for SMU’s international students and believes that a culturally diverse student body increases the quality education for all on campus.

Yessica F. Carlos, International Records Specialist

Yessica F. Carlos is originally from Durango Mexico and moved to Dallas at the age of 16. She attended Hillcrest High School as an ESL student, and graduated with honors and a member of the National Honor Society. She was a recipient of the Rising Star Scholarship and attended Richland College as an International Student. She is currently working on her bachelor’s degree and is fluent in English and Spanish. Yessica has been part of the ISSS team at SMU since 2010 supporting with data management and reporting for all international students in SEVIS.


Rekha Nair,
Graduate Assistant

Rekha Nair grew up in Kuwait and India and moved to Dallas, Texas 16 years ago with her husband and son. She attended Richland College and the University of Texas at Dallas as an international student. She has a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters degree in Science Education. She is currently working on earning her second Masters degree in Education Policy and Leadership at SMU's Simmons School of Education. Prior to working in higher education, Rekha worked as a classroom teacher teaching Mathematics, Science, and Talented and Gifted students in Dallas and Richardson ISD's. The part she loves the most about her job at the International Student Office is assisting students navigate the numerous and sometimes complex immigration compliance policies and procedures. She strives to assist every international student she interacts with to have a positive college experience. Outside of work and school, Rekha is an avid runner and a recreational triathlete.