News at WilmU

A Champion for International Students

Esra Surmen knows a thing or two about volunteerism — likely the reason she earned Wilmington University’s 2019 Trustees Award for Service.

Originally from Turkey, she devotes many hours to her Turkish and Wilmington University communities by mentoring and teaching English to children, serving as a translator at a local community center, planning cultural events, and fundraising for the Delaware Islamic Foundation.

Esra at graduationThe Trustees Award for Service is presented to a graduate who has exhibited outstanding service to Wilmington University and the community. An international student herself, Surmen was overjoyed to represent the international student body.

“This was extremely important to me because it provided the opportunity to show other international students that winning an award like this is possible for them, too,” she says.

Surmen has been in America for more than nine years yet still understands the struggles that inter-national students face. Without the proper guidance and support, entering into a new country can be intimidating. You don’t have family or friends to support or assist you. Surmen faced these struggles — experiences that now fortify her mission to help international students succeed.

WilmU’s Alumni Association Vice President Dr. Mary Chen helped her realize that she could be more than a student, so Surmen assumed a lead role in the new WilmU International Alumni Association Chapter.

With her 3.39 GPA and B.S. in Accounting, Surmen landed accounting jobs at two small companies and  has returned to WilmU to pursue her MBA. She plans to earn her CPA designation.

She is grateful for her Turkish family and her husband, Ibrahim Surmen, whom she married in 2015. She’s made good friends at WilmU and at her two jobs, and is appreciative of the support from the Delaware Islamic Foundation.

One can only speculate on what this distinguished alumna will achieve.

If you’d like to learn more about WilmU’s International Alumni Association Chapter, contact Donna Hardy at

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