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Alieva ’19 Earns Award for Internationalization

Esmira Alieva on the UMN Morris campus
Trina Vue ’20 Communications & Marketing
Publication date: 
March 13, 2019


University of Minnesota Morris student Esmira Alieva ’19 Samarkand, Uzbekistan, earned the Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization. Alieva has worked to build relationships and connections between international and domestic students consistently throughout her time at UMN Morris. Inspired by her vision of unity, she aspires to continue to foster this intercultural competence on a larger scale some day.

Building Sustainable Relationships

Through her leadership and involvement in the Muslim Students Association (MSA), Office of Residential Life (ORL), and Office of Community Engagement, Alieva has shown consistent engagement and commitment to UMN Morris. She aims to bridge the gap between international students and domestic students on campus, while building a sustainable relationship despite differences in background and culture.

“I see the strong ability of being able to build relationships no matter what. We don’t have to see the world in the same way,” says Alieva. “I believe that internationalization, at its core, is being able to learn about others. It’s being able to accept others and being aware of the issues going on in the world.”

As a student from Uzbekistan, she focused on using personal connections to build friendships with students and professors, hoping to present her culture to people who weren’t aware of the country. Alieva now advocates for international students, and encourages them to go out of their comfort zones and get involved in the many communities UMN Morris offers.

“You don’t have to travel or leave Morris; there are so many people that represent so many cultures right here,” Alieva says. “I think we should take advantage of the fact that this place is so diverse, and we can learn from each other.”

Alieva was one of three students from the UMN System to receive a Mestenhauser Student Award this year. According to Ray Lagasse, assistant director of international student programs, Alieva receiving the award is a result of the kind of collaborations UMN Morris encourages.

“UMN Morris is about creating an environment that allows and encourages conversations to happen,” Lagasse says.

The Road Ahead

Alieva hopes to one day work for the United Nations, but for now she’s set her sights on graduate school, where she wants to study international affairs and foster intercultural competence.

“This work and this experience on this campus, even if it’s on a smaller scale, helps me shape the vision I have of unity.”

About the Mestenhauser Student Award

The Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization recognizes outstanding student contributions to international education. This award acknowledges important work being done by students at the University of Minnesota to internationalize the curriculum and campus. Learn more at