Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions Mei Cooley straddles UC Hastings’ Graduate and Global Programs divisions, advising the school’s international population on visa requirements and helping run the LL.M. and Master of Studies in Law (MSL) programs.
Mei knows what it’s like to be an international student because she was twice an international student herself. “I grew up in a rural area of Japan, feeling like I was the wrong ‘peg’ for that particular place,” reflects Mei. She longed to “study abroad to learn another language and see if there was somewhere for me to fit in.” After receiving her International Baccalaureate in Singapore, she came to the U.S. and attended Washington University in Saint Louis. She’s lived in the U.S. ever since.
After a stint teaching at a high school where she also served as an unofficial student visa advisor, Mei worked at an ESL school where she deepened her expertise in the arcane world of international student visas. She joined UC Hastings in 2011.
Mei is UC Hastings’ resident visa guru. “Mei’s dedication to our international students and her extensive experience with visa-related work ensure that qualified students are able to join us from overseas and that they thrive here,” says June Kitagawa Sakamoto, Assistant Dean of the Graduate Division.
Mei’s relationship with the UC Hastings’ international population begins well before students step foot on American soil and continues for the duration of their time at the school. She makes certain that all international students and scholars possess proper visa documentation and that they follow the stringent visa rules once on campus. The visa program has undergone significant changes since 9/11 and 13 years later, revisions to the regulations occur so frequently “it still feels like 9/11 happened yesterday,” says Mei.
In addition to her visa-related work, Mei runs the administrative side of the LL.M. and MSL programs. She ensures that the application process runs smoothly, woos accepted candidates and welcomes the diverse group of matriculating students through orientation and social events she helps organize. This year, “the 38 students in our LL.M. program represent 25 different countries,” Mei says.
“Mei makes the College’s relationship with its international students stronger,” says Elise K. Traynum, General Counsel. Richard Boswell, Professor of Law & Associate Dean for Global Programs, concurs. “Mei truly cares for the students. Her efforts to enhance their experience make them feel fully supported while they’re here.”
With 50-60 international students attending classes, 4-6 international scholars conducting research and two visiting professors from overseas teaching classes in a given year, Mei’s days are always fast-paced, often varied and never dull. She wouldn’t have it any other way.