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 2 children.  We like to spend a lot of time on the golf course, being on the lake, playing volleyball, or watching the Minnesota Twins baseball games. 

Here at OEA, I manage and advise semester programs including: Australia, 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


 Student Employees - Pat, Mike M, Sarah, Kabao,

Kabao Vang, Sociology

On-campus involvement: HAIS and Asia Club

Study Abroad/Travel Experience: I studied abroad in China in Fall 2014

Dream Vacation: My dream vacation would be in Thailand riding on elephants, scuba diving, parachuting, etc.

Sarah Manning

On-campus involvement:

Study Abroad/Travel Experience: gap year in Belgium

Dream Vacation:

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