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Stephen Cottrell

Assistant Director, International Services Office

E-mail address: wec3@msstate.edu


The true son of a sailor and a Magyar mother, Stephen Cottrell received an Alabama gulf coast Catholic education before migrating north to Clarion State College on a football grant-in-aid. After an all too brief academic career, Cottrell attempted to enlist in the navy but the recruiter wasn't in so he walked across the hall and joined the Marine Corps.

After sea duty in both the Mediterranean and Caribbean, Cottrell lost his psychological virginity as a "grunt" in Viet Nam. Returning to the "real" world he took a degree in cultural geography from the University of South Alabama while working with a commercial salvage diving company. During his undergraduate tenure, he made on-sight research visits into southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize where he studied the highland and lowland Mayan cultures.

Returning to Southeast Asia as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, Cottrell spent his abbreviated tour near the "Golden Triangle" of Burma, Laos, & Thailand teaching English at Chiang Mai University and working with the Hmong tribes in that region. Upon his return to the states, Cottrell took his MA degree in TOEFL (Linguistics) at the University of Northern Iowa before taking an assignment in Iran. Completing his contract with that government and volunteering his spare time in a Kurdish refugee camp, he backpacked from the Iran/Afgan border to England over a several month period finally ending up in Bogata, Columbia for a much needed rest.

Eventually returning to the U.S., Cottrell taught at the University of Tampa for a year before making his way to Nashville where he joined the United States Catholic Conference as a Southeast Asian refugee resettlement worker. During his ten year tour with that organization, Cottrell returned once again into Southeast Asia on ‘loan' to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). He worked in Marong/Bataan, Philippines and for a brief period in the infamous Kao-I-Dang refugee camp along the Thai/ Cambodian border. This is the camp that was depicted in the movie "The Killing Fields." His last assignment with the refugee program placed him in the small fishing village of Bayou La Batre, Alabama only a few miles from his original home on Mobile Bay. He worked as a community liaison between the Vietnamese, Khmer & Lao refugees who had migrated to the area and the local American community.

In 1991, Cottrell accepted a position at the University of South Alabama as its International Student Advisor. In 1994 he came to Mississippi State University in the same position and commenced taking his doctorate in Education on a part time basis. After some years Cottrell was awarded the Ed.D., took a semester off from his studies and is now finishing up a Masters in Geosciences at MSU.

Currently, Dr. Cottrell works as the Assistant Director of International Services. In addition, he has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in the Geosciences Department for several years. He is married to Mrs. Kim Heang Kong Cottrell, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge, and they have three daughters; two of whom are MSU students on musical and athletic scholarships. The baby is in the local public high school with ambitions to take a musical scholarship as well.


Cottrell, Stephen and Mabel CPO Okojie. "Assessing the Levels of Cultural Awareness Among Professional Employees and Students at Mississippi State University" International Journal of Vocational Education and Training 14.1 (2006): 53-64.