International Education Staff

Cindy Schaarschmidt

cindy schaarschmidt

Executive Director, Senior International Officer,

Cindy Schaarschmidt has been working in international education for several years, and she is committed to creating transformational global learning opportunities, building reciprocal partnerships, supporting international students, and facilitating internationalization at the institutional level. Cindy holds an M.A. in Media Communications and American Studies from the University of Leipzig, Germany. A native German, Cindy has studied and worked abroad in the U.S., Guatemala, the U.K., Russia, and Spain. Cindy also serves as president of her professional association, the National Association of Fellowships Advisors (NAFA).

When she’s not at work, she finds joy in learning languages and traversing the county on two wheels. She lives in Tacoma with her spouse and their dog.

Shannon Brazell

shannon brazell

Advising/Program Specialist,

Shannon received her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from Pacific University in Oregon. After completing her degree, she taught English in Japan for three years by participating in the JET Programme. She fell in love with living in a small countryside town and traveling to all of the islands in Japan to sight see and try all the delicious foods. Since she enjoyed living and teaching abroad so much, she loves meeting International students and helping them adjust to living here in America. Shannon was born in Tacoma, but has lived in four other states before settling back near her family. She has three dachshund pups and loves to scrapbook, travel, take photos and bake.

Brent Leavell

Brent Leavell

Manager, International Outreach and Partnerships,

Brent manages the college's international outreach and partnerships, including marketing, recruitment, scholarship and admissions. He travels globally to promote Pierce College and build partnerships. Brent has lived, worked and studied overseas, and enjoys promoting international education and the life experience it offers students and scholars. He received a Fulbright for his research on how culture influences Indonesia's traditional markets and has a Master’s in Earth Science, Human Geography. 

Mary Meulblok

mary meulblok

Manager, International Student Services,

Mary is the Manager of International Student Services at Pierce. She has worked in International Education for over ten years. Mary received her degrees in French and Education from Western Washington University in 1986. Her international experience includes a year as an au pair and student at L'Universite d'haute Bretagne in Rennes, France in 1981–82. Mary is married to a Dutchman (whom she met while he was an exchange student in college) and together they have three daughters. Her hobbies include travel, reading and spending time with her family.

Brandon Pearson

brandon pearson

International Admissions Coordinator,

Brandon is a proud community college graduate and recently earned his Master of Arts in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington-Bothell where he focused his culminating project on issues surrounding homelessness in Olympia, WA and the greater Thurston County area. He is excited to welcome students from around the world to Pierce College and the beautiful state he calls home. When not at work, Brandon is spending time with his family and enjoys reading, polishing his carpentry skills, quilting, and baking yummy goodies. He looks forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your educational goals in the United States.

Kate Strittmatter

kate strittmatter

International Outreach Specialist,

Kate is the International Outreach Specialist. She travels on marketing and recruitment campaigns overseas to meet with prospective students. Kate taught English to elementary school students in South Korea through the EPIK program. She received her M.A. from the University of Nebraska in Educational Administration. She's happy to have the opportunity to work with international students and help them achieve their educational goals at Pierce College!

Susan Taylor

susan taylor

SEVIS and Immigration Manager,

Susan has been working with international students for over 10 years. She has studied and lived abroad in Beijing, China and Taipei, Taiwan and has travelled to many countries throughout Asia (except Korea). Susan loves helping students achieve their goals and feels lucky to work with the wonderful international student community at Pierce. Her door is always open to students who have questions about their I-20’s, F-1 visas, OPT, or anything else.

Chris Waraksa

chris waraksa

Intensive English Program (IEP) Manager,

Chris has had many years of varied experience in the field of education. He has taught English and ESL classes in public schools and universities in the United States and in South Korea. In Korea, Chris taught and directed business English programs for Samsung's Human Resources Development Center in Seoul. After returning to the United States, he directed international business programs for the University of Washington's Educational Outreach before joining International Education at Pierce College. In his free time, Chris enjoys spending time with his family at home, where there always seems to be something in the house or yard that needs his weekend attention. When not busy with home improvements and yard work, he enjoys such pastimes as reading, biking, hiking, camping, and taking in the occasional movie.