Leah Zimmer

Director, ISSA

Leah Zimmer

My role: I assist international students and scholars in maintaining their F and J visa status and utilizing the benefits of their visa status. The regulations for visa holders can be challenging, so I help students apply the regulations to their individual situations. I also assist departments in bringing international scholars to Notre Dame to conduct research and teach. I enjoying supporting programs sponsored by ISSA and Notre Dame International.

Why I find my work important: It can be overwhelming to navigate new places, even as a native English speaker, so I love that I can help ease the way for international students and scholars to understand their responsibilities in the U.S. as well as the joys and frustrations of both our institutional culture and U.S. culture.

Professional background: Most of my career has been focused on encouraging people to move out of the familiar. After graduating from college, I taught high school English for six years in Wisconsin and Florida before heading on my own adventure into the unfamiliar in Langfang (Hebei), China. After three years filling various communication and leadership roles at a foster home there, I returned to the U.S. and relocated to South Bend, where I have had multiple opportunities to walk others (and myself) through new spaces of learning. I began working with St. Joseph County Bridges in educating resourced middle class institutions in how to support stability for under-resourced employees, after which I returned to teaching composition and First Year Seminar classes at Indiana University South Bend and Ivy Tech. These led to my role as center director for a local intensive English program for four years. My current role at Notre Dame allows me to focus on unpacking the unfamiliarity of visa regulations with students and scholars and supporting them while studying and working at Notre Dame.

I have a B.A. in English education from UW-Eau Claire, and a master’s in English from Indiana University South Bend. I speak some Mandarin.

My favorite place: Seoul; it is a beautifully designed city, and it made my former designer self very happy. It's hard to pick just one, though, so I'll also mention Winchester, England (where I studied abroad as an undergrad); the countryside of Sichuan Province, China; and hiking in the Appalachian Mountains.

Email Leah +1 574 631 4603 • 105 Main Building