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Dawn Wilkenfeld Named 2021 NAFSA Rising Star Young Leader

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Dawn Wilkenfeld
Dawn Wilkenfeld has been named the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Rising Star Young Leader for 2021.

Dawn Wilkenfeld, international student services coordinator at Montclair State University, has been named the recipient of the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Rising Star Young Leader Award for 2021.

Each year, the award honors a professional who has made an impact in the field of international education during the first five years in their area of work. Wilkenfeld was nominated by her peers in the NAFSA Region X chapter (New York and New Jersey).

Wilkenfeld earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education from Montclair State, and has presented at various regional and national conferences, including NACADA (National Academic Advising Association) and NODA (Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education). She also actively volunteers locally within the international education community, serving as the conference planner for NAFSA Region X.

“From welcoming international students on their very first day at orientation to seeing them graduate, being a part of this incredible journey is why this isn’t just a profession, it’s a passion,” says Wilkenfeld. “This award is a testament to the continuous support I have from the University, my supervisors and colleagues, the NAFSA community, and my family, all of whom I thank.”

NAFSA is the largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. Its mission focuses on advancing international higher education and fostering an understanding among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

“The NAFSA Rising Star Young Leader award identifies newer professionals who will influence the future of international education,” said Esther Brimmer, NAFSA executive director and CEO.  “Through the skills, talent and leadership she has shown in volunteer roles with NAFSA Region X in New York and New Jersey, Dawn Wilkenfeld has demonstrated a commitment to internationalization and an ingenuity of thought that has the potential for having substantial and lasting influence upon international education. Our association is eager to encourage Dawn as she continues to grow as an international educator and we believe that her contributions have only just begun.”

Montclair State University is home to 21,000 students, hundreds of whom are international. The Office of Global Engagement (OGE) offers affordable tuition and scholarships to its international students, as well as support on immigration questions for its F-1 and J-1 students.

“This award is a recognition of Dawn’s professional contribution to the field of international education,” says Cristiana Kunyczka, assistant vice president of the Office of Global Engagement. “Her commitment to international students at Montclair State is commendable. She has demonstrated that she has not only the skills but the passion to advance our office’s mission to support international students. We are so proud of her for having received this award and look forward to the many contributions she will make.”

To learn more about Montclair State University’s programs for international students, visit