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’07 grad helps recruit students 8,000 miles away

May  03, 2016

Andrea Heinz ’07 Marrinson with her students on a field trip to Morocco.

Andrea Heinz ’07 Marrinson always knew she would be an art teacher. But when she began teaching at an Illinois elementary school after graduation, little did she know of the international adventures awaiting her in the cities of Minburi, Dubai and Hanoi.

Marrinson credits Rowen Schussheim-Anderson, professor of art at Augustana, as her inspiration. “She is probably the reason I’m teaching abroad right now, because if I wouldn’t have gone on that Ghana term, I doubt I would’ve ever left the United States,” she said.

Marrinson is teaching art for grades 2-5 at the United Nations International School of Hanoi in Vietnam. The institution’s students and faculty represent more than 60 nationalities. Her husband, a high school English instructor at the school, is taking a year off to stay at home with their infant son, whom the couple adopted from the Marshall Islands last summer.

“I met my husband on… we were both teaching in schools that were only 45 minutes away from each other in Illinois,” Marrinson said. “I left our first date knowing that he was it. We were married in Lake Villa, Ill., and we left 12 hours after our wedding to relocate to Thailand and start our international teaching careers together.”

Although their experiences abroad have introduced new challenges, they enjoy learning about people and cultures. “Being in an international setting is just amazing,” she said. “But when I moved to Thailand, I had to redesign the whole elementary curriculum. I also had a lot of ESL students and students who didn’t speak any English at all.”

Her liberal arts background prepared her for these obstacles. And, as time goes on, her belief in Augustana’s mission continues to grow.

“I am very thankful to Augustana’s education department for giving me such a solid foundation... I really appreciate a lot of the constructivist methods that (Dr. Michael Schroeder) taught us because that has helped me quite a bit,” she said.

Marrinson said she is honored to share the Augustana tradition with her students. She receives “care packages” from Augustana’s admissions office full of goodies for her students and pennants to hang on her classroom door. “I have absolutely no regrets about going to Augustana, and if I can give that experience to someone else, I would feel very, very thankful,” she said.

In March, Marrinson had the opportunity to connect students in Hanoi with Augustana’s admissions office. Liz Nino, director of international recruitment, traveled to Hanoi to meet with prospective students. “My job is to connect them to campus, connect them to faculty, other students in their programs,” Nino said. “I make sure that they know they are welcome to ask all of those important questions regarding the college.”

Augustana’s largest pool of international applicants is from Southeast Asia. Vietnam has the most interest and commitment from students. China and Sweden are close behind.

Nino said alumni are extremely influential during the international recruitment process. Students have to find ways to connect with the schools, she said. “And that’s when I typically reach out to alumni. If they can share their stories, I think that’s what really makes us stand out from other institutions.”

She said that Augustana students and faculty on study abroad trips also can have an impact by speaking with prospective families. “We get applications from the most unexpected places in the world, even Mali, Argentina and Bosnia,” she said.

As someone who has worked, studied and traveled extensively throughout her lifetime, Nino understands the importance of creating international relationships.

“It just makes life so much more interesting when you have that diversity,” she said.

Marrinson couldn't agree more.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         – Rachel Reiter '18

International alumni: Please contact Liz Nino at if you are interested in assisting with international recruiting.