Introducing – Jenifer Hermes, New Director of ALCI


We are pleased to announce and introduce the Director for the American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI), Dr. Jenifer Hermes. Jenifer started her new position on November 9, 2015.

Dr. Hermes comes from a long-established career both in academia and more specifically, English as a Second Language. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Education with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction and a master’s degree in TESOL from Temple University. Formerly a director of the English Language Institutes at both Illinois State University and Eastern Washington University, Jenifer is well prepared to engage the dynamic team of dedicated staff and students at ALCI. She has traveled extensively and lived in Japan and Mexico.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Jenifer Hermes to her new position!
Contact information:


Staff Profile – Shaquelle Smith, Student Assistant

Shaquelle Smith has been with the American Language and Culture Institute as a student assistant since April 2015.  She is an international student studying at Cal State San Marcos and provides excellent support in our office.  If you have time to talk to Shaquelle about her experience at the university and in the United States, we highly recommend you do.  Here is a little interview to get you acquainted:

Where were you born?  Where is your home country?

I was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. I grew up in Krimpen aan den IJssel.

What are you studying and why?

I am studying global studies. I like learning about people’s culture and language. I chose this major because I am very interested in culture and in globalization. Global Studies is an interdisciplinary major and gives me the opportunity to discover various subjects.

What has been your biggest challenge as an international student?

Leaving my home country behind and starting over again. I came to America by myself without knowing anyone. I learned English in school before, but going to America gave me the first opportunity to speak English. I learned a lot from living on my own and to study far from home in a second language.

Are you part of any CSUSM student organizations?

Yes I am currently the vice-president of the Global Studies club, and a member of global connections.

If you could pick one thing to take back to your home country from the United States, what would it be?

The mountains. I love seeing the view of mountains every day.

What are you looking forward to the most this semester?

Meeting more people and of course graduation.

What do you do for fun when you have time off from studying?

I enjoy going to the beach, or touring through California.

Have you visited any other US states?  Which ones?

I have visited New York. I spent three days visiting and sightseeing New York City.

Can you juggle?

Unfortunately I cannot. Maybe a goal for this year 🙂

Any advice for ALCI students?

Don’t be afraid. Try new things and try getting as much out of your comfort zone. The step you already made to decide to study abroad is a huge deal and already a big step. Don’t be afraid to try new stuff and to meet new people. Be open for change because studying abroad will change you and when you go back you will notice the personal development you have made. Get out as much as you can from this opportunity.

Thank you for interviewing with me, Shaquelle!

By Sylvia Harrington

Staff Profile: Erin Reed, Student Services Assistant

erinrErin Reed is the student services assistant at the American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI), and she is the perfect fit for the job. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and Advertising from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (otherwise known as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), so is a graduate of the CSU-system. Shortly after graduation, Erin answered a classified job advertisement in a local newspaper and soon found herself working at a small, growing computer company called Apple Computer—ever heard of it?

Having worked at Apple for many years in the marketing department as a Field Marketing Manager, Erin is always looking for ways that the ALCI can improve its services to students and leave them with the best experience at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). For example, Erin was instrumental in organizing and planning the logistics for the ambitious new Mexico-United States Scholarship program Proyecta 100,000 that brought 45 Mexican students to study at CSUSM. This took careful coordination with the Mexican government, the US Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), and the Mexican scholarship students. Due to the success of Proyecta 100,000 and the positive feedback ALCI received from its previous students, this program will continue in 2015.

Erin’s introduction to working in education began when she started volunteering at her children’s school.  It was not long after that she was hired as an Attendance Specialist. It was here that she became highly trained in attendance tracking, a skill that is valuable in Intensive English Programs (IEPs) due to student visa rules and regulations.  Erin has a keen interest in US immigration as it relates to international education and has spent much time and energy learning about this complex aspect of her job.

When asked what she likes about her position at ALCI, she responded, “The diversity of international students. It opens your mind working here at CSUSM where you learn about cultures and dispel misconceptions. People here come from so many different backgrounds, so we are always learning from each other. It is wonderful to work for a learning institution.”

From marketing to attendance tracking to immigration advising, Erin’s combination of skills makes her a valued member of the ALCI team. She can often be found on her lunch in the University Student Union (USU) where she is commonly conversing with CSUSM students and listening to their stories.