Q&A with Anja Abney, Director of Residential Life and International Student Services

anja-abney Anja began working at Ross School in August 2015 as the Assistant Director of Admissions. Originally from Germany, Anja completed her undergraduate studies in languages as the sole international student at Louisiana College. She later earned her master’s in business administration from Cincinnati’s Xavier University, and she is currently working on a doctorate at the University of Southern California. Anja leads Ross’s boarding program and enjoys helping international students adjust to life in the states. She is fluent in German, English, French, and Spanish—all of which she uses while communicating with Ross families from more 20 countries.

What inspired you to build a career working with international students? When I came to the United States from Germany for college, there was no international students’ office at my school. I didn’t have anyone to guide me, teach me how to get involved, or explain cultural differences. When the field of international education expanded, I got involved in helping with immigration advising and cultural adjustment because it can be very difficult for international students. There are simple things we can give boarders to make their transition easier—even if they just want to talk to someone who understands.

What resources does the Office of Residential Life provide for Ross families? Residential Life is a huge resource for everyone at Ross School. Although we deal primarily with international students, we work with everyone on campus—supporting house parents, collaborating with other departments, and assisting with student issues. We also organize activities and trips for boarding and day students, which helps the boarders with cultural adjustment by introducing them to students from other places and giving them access to uniquely American experiences. The International Student Services department, a division of Residential Life, manages travel arrangements and works with international families to ensure that the students have the proper student visas.

What is unique about Ross School’s boarding program? Our students live in boarding houses with faculty house parents instead of living in dormitories. This allows them to forge much stronger relationships with their teachers than students would in dorms, and parents and students enjoy that aspect of Ross Residential Life. Many of our students also build lifelong friendships while sharing a space; they come to view their classmates like brothers and sisters. That’s an experience you wouldn’t find at many boarding schools.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I love helping international students get excited about coming to Ross. Once they get here, it’s rewarding to help them get adjusted, make friends, and get involved on campus. But my favorite part of this job is attending graduation and watching our students walk across the stage.