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Member Spotlight: Martin Rosales

Written by: Martin Rosales
Published on: Feb 21, 2024
Martin Rosales


Martin Rosales, Assistant Director of Global Initiatives for Texas A&M University's Global Engagement


This is the latest in a series of interviews with members of NAFSA: Association of International Educators to share insights, knowledge, and expertise about career opportunities and growth. Today we hear from Martin Rosales.


1. What made you choose international education as a career path, and specifically your specialty? 

As with many of us, I first fell in love with international education when I participated in a summer study abroad program at Nagoya Gakuin Daigaku in Nagoya, Japan. I was so in love with the Japanese culture and its people that I returned there for my first job as an English teacher with Margaret’s Institute of Language in Chiba, Japan. This was the first time I really saw the struggles of students who wanted to study, live, and work abroad. I decided to return to the United States after three years to pursue my master’s in higher education administration at Auburn University and was an adjunct faculty member, providing student services and programming support for short-term language training and bridge programs and assisting international students from Japan in translations of forms and procedures.  

After graduating, I worked in private and public institutions in Alabama, California, and Texas. My affinity with technology and the belief of my colleagues along the way allowed me to create online pre-departure and arrival orientations and applications for international student admissions, implementing software systems such as Sunapsis, Terra Dotta, Via TRM, Microsoft SharePoint, and Power Automate.  

In my current role, my duties include project management, software technology support, training, grant application and management, and assessment for various global higher education functional areas. These areas include international student and scholar services, education abroad, visiting delegations, global support, and global learning. Thankfully, I had support from my colleagues that allowed me to combine my interests and passions into this jack-of-all-trades that I am today. 

2. What does a typical workday look like for you?  

Chaotic, busy, but extremely rewarding. Our university has undergone changes recently, and the Department of Global Engagement is barely 2 years old. We are still trying to fine-tune everything while providing the best experience for our international community members. One day, I am combining the website for seven different units into one megaunit , and, on another day, troubleshooting complex data issues for immigration software, or designing complex approval workflows to automate certain business processes 

3. What do you consider one of your career successes? How did you achieve it? 

If I had to choose just one, it would be coauthoring a book chapter that explores multiple jeopardy in STEM, specifically focused on queer international students, in the edited volume Perspectives on Transforming Higher Education and the LGBTQIA Student Experience.  

A classmate of mine received an email that was a call to researchers and practitioners to submit a book chapter proposal. She immediately thought of me and a colleague, saying that we had to write a chapter in a book and no one else had the insights we had. It was her ability to see something in me that I did not, her encouragement, and my faculty that gave me the courage to try. I suppose the editors agreed, and it should be out by the time people read this. I, of course, could not have done this without my loving and supportive husband, who ensured I stayed hydrated, fed, and sane. 

This work was produced in a time where antiqueer, antitrans, and anti-immigrant rhetoric, policies, and agendas are the worst they have ever been. There are quite a few chapters in that book on international student experiences, and it was a huge honor to write alongside some real pioneers in the field. To sum it up, a chosen community who believe and support each other is how I have been and continue to be successful.  

4. What do you consider a challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it? 

I would say one of my greatest challenges has been being underestimated and misunderstood. For example, my passion and eagerness to do right by those we serve has me viewed as dramatic. There have been instances where I have advocated for students, scholars, and professionals in our field and have been met with hostility. I have also been questioned about how I have the knowledge, ability, and skills that I have, which has often limited my upward mobility. I have overcome this by learning how to advocate for myself and building a network of professionals who believe in my abilities and have provided guidance. Being part of NAFSA has been integral in overcoming those challenges, as I can seek the advice of colleagues and peers and feel validated in my competence as an expert. 

5. What area of your field do you enjoy most, and what aspect would you like to further explore? 

I enjoy the people the most. We are all passionate about what we do and share a common vision of supporting the various populations we serve. Most of my support network, colleagues, and friends have come from my time in the field. I believe our field has the best folks in the world working in it.  

I would love to explore the scholarship and research side of the field more. We have the knowledge and skills to be the best scholar-practitioners who explore internationally mobile populations and add humanity back into the work that we do. In a perfect world, we would dismantle the domestic and international dichotomy and fully explore the ramifications that institutional policies and legislative actions have on others. 

6. What membership benefits offered by NAFSA have helped you in your career? 

As I have highlighted above, networking. We have an amazing group of professionals who are willing to share their knowledge with others. All my mentors over the years have been NAFSA members. They have encouraged and supported me in my professional development. Through connections made through NAFSA, I have collaborated on many innovative initiatives and presentations. In many instances, those collaborators saw something in me that I never did. They have challenged me to think outside the box and explore areas outside my comfort zone. 

7. Which of NAFSA’s special member interest groups, regions, or knowledge communities do you belong to?  

Historically, I was a part of a community programming group that was an amazing resource for me when I was responsible for orientation and cultural programming. The groups have morphed over the years, but I am currently an active member of the Rainbow and Japan Special Interest Groups and am active in the Knowledge Community for International Student and Scholar Services and the Education Abroad Knowledge Community. I have had the opportunity to work in Region XII and Region III, and many of my colleagues hold leadership positions in each region. I hope to get more involved in the Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship Knowledge Community.  

8. What advice would you share with job seekers or rising international educators? 

Be open to opportunities and learning about things you do not know. We often gravitate toward the familiar and lose sight of the larger picture and how we may play a role in supporting our populations and ourselves when we diversify our skill set. The international education community is close knit and filled with mentors and coconspirators who are ready and willing to support your development and growth. Start small by attending state meetings, then a few regional conferences, and then the national conference. The connections you make along the way last a lifetime, which I feel is unique to NAFSA. NAFSANs look out for each other, and you will never be without support.  


Martin Rosales is the Assistant Director of Global Initiatives for Texas A&M University's Global Engagement, supporting all international education units in project management, assessment, and software support. He is a seasoned presenter at NAFSA state, regional (III and XII), and national conferences, covering topics such as culturally aware student support, mental health, diversity, equity, inclusion, and intercultural competency. He is also an active NAFSA Trainer Corps member, a recipient of the NAFSA Rising Star Award (2022), and a participant in the 2018 cohort of the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program (now known as NAFSA RISE Fellowship).