International Services Staff

The ISSS staff will help you through the admissions process, getting your visa, and settling in at WSU. We will continue to provide support as you progress through your degree program.

Oresta Felts
Oresta Felts


Oresta grew up in Ukraine but has lived in the U.S. for a while. She graduated from Ivan Franko National University in Lviv, Ukraine with a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English and Translation and got her master’s degree in Communication from Western Illinois University.

Oresta has taught English language learners,
directed an English language program,
coordinated international student programs, and recruited students in different countries.

Outside of work, Oresta enjoys art, nature, trying new recipes and learning about world cultures. Oresta’s family visited several countries and always look forward to more trips.


Email Oresta Felts
Rebecca Sims
Rebecca Sims
International Advisor


Rebecca works with degree-seeking students at Winona State University. She meets with new incoming students to register for courses, arrange required testing, and prepare to arrive to Winona State. She designs cultural education programs to celebrate cultures on campus and works with community partners to connect international students to the city of Winona.

Rebecca also manages the Friendship Family Program and the Cross-Cultural Scholarship. She regularly meets with students about cultural adjustments, campus resources, visa questions, academics, careers, graduate studies, and scholarships.

Rebecca has undergraduate degrees in Sociology, Communication Studies, and Political Science with a minor in International Development Studies. She also has a graduate degree in Public Administration.

Before working at Winona State, Rebecca worked at a university in South Asia and directed programs at universities in the U.S.

In her free time, Rebecca likes to explore Winona, “The Island City.”  You may find her walking around the historic downtown and the beautiful lakes or sipping coffee at a local cafe.

Schedule a meeting with Rebecca

Email Rebecca Sims
Gretchen VanValen
Gretchen VanValen
Office Manager


Gretchen makes sure that the processes of the ISSS office run smoothly. She also hires and manages most of the student worker staff. She enjoys chatting with students when they stop by the office.

Gretchen has lived in the Midwest all her life, but has visited many states including Alaska, California, Florida, and New York.

She graduated with an Associate Degree in Human Resources and Business Administration and a Marketing Certificate from Western Technical College.

Previously, she worked in the television studio, marketing, finance, and regulatory areas of a telecommunications company and in a bookstore.

In her free time, she likes catching a movie, cooking, playing volleyball, hanging out with her husband and dogs, and puttering in her flower and vegetable gardens.

Email Gretchen VanValen
Heather Willis
Heather Willis
SEVIS Officer & Advisor


Heather works with the Exchange and Visiting students who come to WSU, helping with admissions, visa processing, orientation, and getting students settled into life at WSU.

Heather is a Midwest gal despite a childhood spent on the East Coast. Heather graduated from the University of Minnesota with:

  • undergraduate degrees in Anthropology & French
  • a masters degree in International & Intercultural Education

Her passion for international education was sparked by family stories of travel followed by her own adventures studying abroad in Ghana and France.

In previous jobs Heather worked with J-1 visa programs and sending volunteer medical teams abroad. Her favorite part of the jobs has always been the opportunity to learn about culture from others.

When not at work, you can find Heather exploring the beauty of the region by hiking with her husband and dog, biking, or paddling. Or, she’s often at Nate and Ally’s getting ice cream.

Email Heather Willis