Professional Staff:

Yun Shi, Director

Dr. Yun Shi is the founding director of International Education, established in 2014 with Student Affairs. She is passionate about internationalization on UIUC campus and focuses on enhancing the transformative learning experience to support international students and engage domestic students. She is a firm believer that International Education is for all! She has received ISSS Outstanding Staff Member Award, Outstanding Asian American faculty-staff award, International Women’s Day Award, and Student Affairs Outstanding Program Award. She previously worked as Assistant Director of International Programs and the Asian Program Coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Yun earned a Ph.D. in education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, M.Ed. in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and B.A. in English from Xi’an International Studies University in China. Prior to coming to the United States, Yun taught at a local university for 13 years in China, where she was born. Yun enjoys cooking with students from around the world. Her hobbies include reading, listening to podcasts while knitting and crocheting.


M. Laura Castaneda, Office Support Specialist

Laura is originally from Northwest Illinois, and moved to the area in 1987 due to job opportunities and has been working on campus since 1996. She attended Albuquerque's Central New Mexico Community College. Having worked in the past at La Casa Cultural Latina, she is no stranger to OIIR. She's excited to once again interact with our students and our other units. Laura enjoys dancing and classic films, traveling, and walking her dog, Sofky. 


Student Staff:


Yaning Cao 

Yaning is a first-year Ph.D. student in Education, Policy, Organization, and Leadership (EPOL) department. She has passion for international education and loves to learn different cultures. Yaning earned an M.Ed in Education, Policy, Organization, and Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, and a B.A. in Human Geography from the University of New Hampshire. Before she joined the doctorate program at U of I, she worked as Student Affairs staff member at Duke Kunshan University, a joint-venture university in China, for 2 years. Yaning is eager to contribute to the local community and make new friends. During her free time, she enjoys doing outdoor activities, like hiking, rock climbing, running, and handcrafting.

Aidana Sirgebayeva

Aidana is originally from Kazakhstan. She enjoys working at the international institution settings and has 8 years of work experience at one of the international universities in Kazakhstan. Aidana is a 1st year PhD student at the Educational Policy, Organization and Leadership department within the College of Education, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Nazarbayev University and Bachelor of Education from the Abay Kazakh National Pedagogical University in Kazakhstan. She is excited to interact and work with local and international students. Aidana enjoys reading fiction books and travelling.