Office for Education Abroad Staff

Nicole Clements, Joy Ruis, Peggy Retka, Merry Hoppert

Peggy Retka
Director of Education Abroad

I started at OEA in September, 2007.  Prior to joining the office, I spent three and a half years at the Center for International Studies at St. Cloud State University, also managing study abroad programs.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Business Administration, with a concentration in International Business, from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.  I completed my Masters of Science degree in College Counseling and Student Development at SCSU in December 2008.

Travel has been my passion since my first exposure to France when I was 15.  Since then, I have traveled extensively throughout France and other areas of Europe; including a 10-month home-stay experience with a French family.  I have also visited Australia, India, South Africa and several countries in Asia (briefly!).

Originally from Hastings, Minnesota; I now live in St. Joseph. In my free time I try to take in the many outdoor activities that this area has to offer, read, and explore as much of the US and the world that I can!

At OEA I have two main roles: 1) Advising students about the great international opportunities CSB/SJU offers; 2) Managing the Australia and South Africa programs.  Stop by sometime to find out how Study Abroad can fit into your future.

Contact me: 320.363.5962

Joy Ruis
Education Abroad Advisor

I joined the CSB/SJU community and OEA staff in July 2008.  Before that time, I worked for the Minnesota Historical Society, Wells Fargo, and then the International Education Center at University of St. Thomas.  While I was at University of Saint Thomas, I also received my M.A. in Leadership in Student Affairs. 

I also have a Bachelor of Science from University of Wisconsin-River Falls in History with a double minor in Political Science and International Studies. While there, I studied abroad for a semester with the Wisconsin in Scotland program just outside of Edinburgh. Prior to college, I started my love of travel with a high school language program to Germany where I stayed with a host family for a week and then traveled to different areas in Southern Germany.

Growing up in the area, it is great to be close to family and friends. When I am not at work, I like to spend my time with my husband and son.  We like to spend a lot of time on the golf course, being on the lake, playing volleyball, biking, going to movies, or watching the Minnesota Twins baseball games. 

Here at OEA, I manage and advise semester programs including:  China, England (Coventry and London, Fall & Spring), India, Galway & Cork-Ireland, Northern Ireland, Japan, and External study abroad programs.  Come into our office to see how you can fit study abroad into your time here at CSBSJU.

Contact me: 320.363.5590

Nicole Clements
Education Abroad Advisor

I joined the OEA staff in January of 2011, bringing a variety of experiences with me to the position. Previously I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer, a college admission counselor and academic advisor, a corporate human resources specialist, and the on-site recruiter for a study abroad program in Lithuania.

I received both my bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Minnesota. As an undergraduate I was fortunate to spend an academic year studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain, and as cliché as it sounds, that year changed my life. I gained a passion and appreciation for connecting with new cultures, a love of language learning, and a desire to experience more of the world. And while my career path has been a bit circuitous, I credit my year in Spain with leading me to the role I have today!

I enjoy helping students be successful in college - providing support, guidance, and troubleshooting as they navigate their undergraduate careers. I have a particular passion for helping students incorporate an international experience into their undergraduate career. At CSB/SJU I manage and advise for the following semester programs: Austria, Chile, France, Germany, Greco-Roman/Roman-Greco, Guatemala, South Africa, and Spain. I encourage you to stop by our office to learn more about any of our programs, and to explore how an international experience can work for you!

Contact me: 320.363.5961

Merry Hoppert
Office Coordinator

I joined OEA in November 2007, having  previously  worked in the St. John's Health Center for the past five years.  I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology and accumulated twenty years of experience in that field.  So, with my medical background how did I end up working in the Office for Education Abroad? 

I give credit to my uncle for sparking my interest in travel to learn about other countries.  When I was sixteen years old I traveled to Europe with my uncle who was an art teacher, and a friend.   We went to Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Florence, Geneva, and Berlin.  We learned a little bit about everything while we were abroad.  We returned home realizing  there was so much more to learn.

As a second year student at St. Olaf College, I took a theology course and studied abroad in the Rome program.  It was intensive, truly a tremendous learning experience, and a time of spiritual growth.

Several years after finishing my college education I moved to Hawaii, and lived and worked there for twelve years.  Many fond memories come to mind as I reflect on Hawaii as a true melting pot of peoples, with their various customs, foods, and history. 

I currently live in Sartell with my husband, two children, a cat and a dog.  We enjoy camping, fishing, skiing, snowboarding, biking, soccer and basketball.

Contact me: 320.363.5958

Amber Williams
Graduate Intern

I am very excited to be working in an Education Abroad office and at CSB/SJU.  My other work experiences include a Graduate Assistantship in First Year & Transition Programs at St. Cloud State University, working with at-risk students, first-year students on academic probation, and teaching a college readiness course, along with many other tasks.

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Psychology with a Psychology minor from St. Cloud State University. I am currently working towards my Masters of Science in College Counseling and Student Development also at St. Cloud State University and will graduate this May 2014.

My interest in education abroad began when I was in high school and especially when I was an undergraduate student. During high school, I did missionary work in Mexico and recently returned from a short-term study abroad experience in South Africa. I am excited to work with students preparing to study abroad and those that have returned from their amazing experiences.

Contact me:


Student Employees

OEA is always a busy place and we are on the front line!  We greet students and faculty that come into the office; answer telephone calls; schedule appointments; update brochures, bulletin boards, websites, and other marketing materials.

We are  happy to assist you in finding more information about studying abroad through CSB/SJU. We can answer basic questions about the study abroad programs, Study Abroad 101, applying to a program and passports.  We can also show you how to fully utilize the OEA website.

Contact us: 320.363.5952