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Meet Our Team

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Meet Our Team

Stephen bennett

Stephen Bennett
Associate Director of International Student Admissions

Stephen Bennett has worked with and advised international students for more than 30 years and he has worked at NOVA since 2000. He was born in the US but grew up in East Pakistan and attended high school in Bangkok. He returned to the US where he completed his bachelor’s degree at Mars Hill College in North Carolina. After graduating from college he spent three years in Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer. He later lived in Panama and Bangladesh. He holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Bennett enjoys music, sports and gardening. 


Absera Abraham

Absera Abraham
International Student Adviser

Absera Abraham was born in Ethiopia and moved to the US when she was a child. She learned English by playing with children in her neighborhood. When she didn’t understand the meaning of a word, she would run home to ask her family for translation. She studied abroad in South Africa as an undergraduate and in Tanzania during graduate school. Prior to NOVA, Abraham worked in various capacities at another community college where she coordinated student success initiatives for underrepresented students through grant-funded programs, academic advising and international student advising. Her hobbies consist of visiting museums/events in the DC area with her family.


Twyla Jones

Dr. Twyla Jones
Senior International Student Adviser

Dr. Twyla Jones has worked with and advised international students for more than 18 years and has worked at NOVA since 2012. She has several years of experience in academic and cross-cultural programming and training via her work in the Peace Corps in Senegal and several USAID-funded programs in Egypt, Madagascar, Senegal, Zimbabwe and the US. She earned a master’s degree in College Student Personnel Services from Ohio University and a doctorate in Educational Leadership/Higher Education Administration from West Virginia University. Dr. Jones enjoys reading, arts & crafts, travel and is an avid motorcyclist. 


Camila McTighe

Camila McTighe
Senior International Student Adviser

Camila McTighe was born in Brazil and moved to the US in 2005. She developed a passion for learning languages while enrolled in ESL. She has studied English, Spanish and Italian. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a post-graduate certificate in Media from the UNISUAM. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in Public Administration. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her son and teaching him Portuguese, practicing Yoga and Tai Chi, and cooking for her family and friends. She is thrilled to be serving the international students community at NOVA!


Catalina Novac

Dr. Catalina Novac
Senior International Student Advisor

Dr. Catalina Novac has worked at NOVA since 2014. She previously worked in the field of international education and affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, World Bank, Council of Europe and the US Embassy in Bucharest. She has a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and has taught courses at George Washington University, Marymount University and George Mason University. She was awarded a Fulbright grant to Germany in 2004. Dr. Novac is also a published author, traveler, artist and a practitioner of Tae Kwon Do.


Nooshin Paydar

Nooshin Paydar
International Student Adviser

Nooshin Paydar was born and raised in Iran and also lived in Germany for a short time before coming to the US in 2000. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Business Administration and Management. She was a journalist and women’s activist in Iran and a student coach at Strayer University for five years. She has worked at NOVA as an international student advisor since 2013. Paydar enjoys watching foreign movies, photography, reading and translating novels, hiking, and traveling to Germany!


Michael Tucker

Dr. Michael Tucker
Senior International Student Adviser

Dr. Michael Tucker began his higher education career with J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College as a counselor and held positions as Coordinator of Counseling and Acting Dean of Students there. He joined the NOVA family in 1994 as a counselor and transitioned to International Student Services in 2005. He has traveled extensively in Asia and Latin America. Dr. Tucker holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from East Tennessee State University, a Master’s of Science degree in Community College Counseling from Illinois State University and a Doctor of Arts degree from George Mason University in Community College Education with a specialization in Conflict Resolution. He is also a recipient of a Fulbright International Administrators Award. His recreational interests include travel, photography and cultural immersion opportunities.


Di Hu

Di Hu
Program Assistant

Di Hu was a NOVA international student in 2013. She has been working at NOVA for over three years as a China program assistant. Before she came to the US she worked in Dubai and Seychelles in the field of Hospitality Management as a guest relations representative. She enjoys working with NOVA students from all over the world and believes each of our students will succeed in their studies. She is fond of cooking, exercising and appreciate arts and movies.

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