(presented by Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart)
We received many accounts of heroism on the part of our next recipient. Her name is Maria Brennan, and as Assistant Director of the International Students Office, she has come to the rescue of a dizzying number of students and staff facing thorny immigration challenges.
Maria’s job is to ensure that all MIT international students comply with US immigration requirements. And given the number of international students at MIT—over 3,500 from 90 countries—this is no mean feat. Maria is the primary go-to person for advice on immigration policy, visa applications, travel restrictions, work requirements, and countless other issues that arise in the life of an international student. Both staff and students have written in passionate support of her nomination for this award.
They talk about Maria’s vast wealth of knowledge, competence, professionalism and compassion for the students she is serving. They talk about nail-biting situations that Maria solved with characteristic skill, sensitivity, and speed.
“One of our students contacted Maria, panicked because he was traveling and his passport had been stolen. Maria responded to the student almost immediately despite the fact that it was well beyond normal business hours. She outlined exactly the steps the student needed to take, expressed gratitude for knowing that he was unharmed, and perhaps most importantly, reassured the student that the situation would be resolved.”
Another said, “When I think of the volume of inquiries that are initiated from my office alone in one day, one week, one month and the speed with which Maria answers these inquiries—well, it’s simply staggering.”
Congratulations, Maria Brennan!