Meet ISSO Staff


David Elwell


David’s roots in higher education run deep, as both of his parents worked as faculty and staff at a university in his home state of New Hampshire. David himself has been working in higher education since 1992, and began working at Brandeis in 2000. With a BA in Political Science and Spanish Language, Literature, and Culture, and a MPA in Public Administration (Intercultural Communication/Human Resources Management), David has extensive international experience. His main responsibilities include providing advising and programming support to the approximately 900 international students and 175 international scholars/professors/researchers at Brandeis, and helping international population adjust to life in the U.S. He also serves as Brandeis’ designated school official to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State. His favorite Brandeis memory was traveling to New Orleans with a group of Wien Scholars to aid in relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. His interest in all-things-international was spurred on as a teen when David first traveled abroad to Europe as a member of American soccer team. He now enjoys traveling to new places with his wife and daughter.

Ruth Brigham

Assistant Director

Ruth joined the Brandeis community in 2001 with extensive international experience and education. Prior to Brandeis, she was the director and a teacher in an ESL program for an organization called ACCESS in Boston’s Chinatown. She also taught ESL classes for a summer in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and, while there, enjoyed traveling in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. She recalls her most amazing adventure as doing relief work in Colombia for three months. With a BS in French and minor in Spanish, and a MA in TEFL and Intercultural Studies, Ruth advises international students concerning travel and employment, and also organizes workshops for the ISSO. To add to her international experience, Ruth lived in various European countries for over 8 years.

Bonnie Ryle

International Student Advisor

Bonnie is the newest member the ISSO team. Her background includes a BA in Spanish and a minor in Psychology.  She also has a master’s degree in Education.  Bonnie has spent many years teaching English and living abroad in Seville, Spain.  Her unique educational experiences, love for travel, and love for all cultures have led her to the globalized Brandeis University. For Bonnie, one of the best things about working at Brandeis is that there is an opportunity to connect with so many wonderful students, staff, and faculty from all over the world. In Bonnie’s spare time, she loves to travel, flamenco dance, and spend quality time with family and friends.

Gillian Boulay

International Student Advisor

After spending several years living and working in southern China, Gillian moved back to her native New England and began working at Brandeis in 2009. Gillian enjoys advising and getting to know Brandeis's amazing international students! Gillian holds a BA in Anthropology and Asian Studies (with a concentration in Chinese) from Mount Holyoke College as well as a TEFL Certification for Teaching English as a Foreign Language from Peking University. A food enthusiast, Gillian loves to cook and host dinner parties for family and friends.

Emily Stewart

SEVIS/PASS Administrator

Emily moved from California in 2009 to pursue her Master's degree in International Education at SIT Graduate Institute, which she earned in 2011. For a year and a half Emily supported international students and scholars as the Department Coordinator of the ISSO. In the summer of 2012 Emily transitioned to the role of SEVIS/PASS Administrator in the ISSO. Emily now maintains the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and provides visa and immigration support to all of Brandeis' amazing international students. Emily loves working at the ISSO because every time she meets someone new, she wants travel to their country.  This means she has a long list to get through over the next several years!  In addition to meeting new people, she enjoys playing tennis, reading, and going to the beaches back in California.  Emily holds a BA in Linguistics and Liberal Studies from California State University-San Marcos.

Souad Nejjar

Department Coordinator

A native of Morocco, Souad has been working in higher education since 2003. In 2011, she received a Master of Science in Higher Education at the University of Rochester Warner School of Education and Human Development in Rochester, NY. Souad came to Brandeis after serving as a Technical Associate in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, overseeing laboratory management and coordination, including support to its faculty, researchers, and students, as well as administrative duties. In her spare time, Souad enjoys hiking and traveling.