Going to college in the United States is a family tradition for Sophie Huang, a rising senior at UC Berkeley and an Alumni at Skyline College. While Sophie and her family are from Indonesia, both of her parents studied in the United States. They even met in San Francisco!
Sophie’s elder sister is also a Skyline College Alumni, “some of our family live close to Skyline [College], and so they introduced Skyline [College] to my older sister, and my older sister introduced it to me.” Her sister told Sophie that it would be “quite challenging at first.” Nevertheless, she also said that studying in the United States, “makes you think bigger and have a different perspective,” and that Skyline College “provided a lot of resources,” something Sophie would later experience first-hand.
Sophie initially faced cultural, academic, and linguistic barriers. However, she had a lot of support, especially from the International Student Program (ISP). The ISP helped with everything from registering for classes to assisting with finding transportation and managing American bank accounts. In addition, Sophie met friends at the ISP’s events, and found useful information, for example, she got information about how to transfer to certain universities. She is still in contact with staff at the International Student Program, from whom she still gets support.
After a semester, she adjusted and began to dive headfirst into college life. Sophie majored in Business Administration, which allowed her to understand marketing, “think bigger,” and “gain interpersonal skills.” She says Economics Professor Masao Suzuki was especially helpful. He acted as a “support system” for her and gave advice on transferring to UC Berkeley. She still talks to him to this day.
Besides academics Sophie also became very involved with campus life, “I wanted to make my family proud, so I always [found] resources that allow[ed] me to strive further.” Sophie eventually became the president of the International Student Club, an executive at the Phi Theta Kappa Academic Honor Society, and the co-president of the Kappa Beta Delta Business Honor Society.
At the International Student Club, she planned academic and social events. Sophie also got to “work closely with the college president and the college administration,” while creating a sustainability project for the Academic Honor Society. She helped students find scholarships, planned networking events, and provided professional/academic resources at the Business Honors Society.
Sophie learned a lot from working with fellow club officers and members, “I would really suggest students to be part of these organizations because communication and collaborative skills are very important.” She’s had many professionals tell her these skills are must-haves.
Sophie also found jobs at Skyline. She was a Student Ambassador for a Semester. There she helped create the new orientation and was able to share her experiences as an International Student. She was also a business tutor, a job in which she learned how to work with a variety of learning styles, “it’s really rewarding to be able to… utilize your skills, to actually help other people and give back to the community.”
Sophie will soon graduate from UC Berkeley with an economics degree, and she plans to work in the United States before heading back to Indonesia. Sophie hopes to one day open her own business in Indonesia. She plans to center it around sustainability, as she believes the environment isn’t emphasized enough in Indonesia.
Sophie notes, “I really enjoyed my college experience at Skyline,” and she found that the smaller size of the campus allowed her to get involved and build relationships. People should “try something new, discover new things.”
Article by Evelyn Rossi