May Myat Noe Tun, alumni of the International Student Program (ISP) at Skyline College, says, “I want to share through this article that … it’s a really great program and you won’t regret coming to Skyline College at all.” A UCLA graduate, May has been highly successful in the U.S. and has recently been accepted to a Linked-in sponsored leadership program.
May is originally from Myanmar and came to the U.S. to help her home country, “ become a better place… the U.S. is just full of opportunities.” She was especially interested in medical research in the U.S. (though she eventually decided to go down a different route).
May wanted to attend UC Berkeley or UCLA and knew going to a California community college would increase her chances of getting into both schools. Once she learned that Skyline College is one of the few community colleges in California that provides scholarships to new international students, she decided to apply. ISP staff supported her through the application process and helped her successfully obtain Skyline College’s scholarship for new international students, the Global Beca International Student Scholarship.
At first, living abroad was a struggle, “suddenly I’m in a whole different country with like literally two or three people I know.” At the same time, she was living on her own for the first time and had 8 a.m. classes, Monday through Friday. Fortunately, she had plenty of support.
May says that the ISP helped her through the transition, “Chikako [Walker, Interim Program Manager] and Carlos [Romero, the ISP’s Counselor] were there all the time for me… They’re like two of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life.” Whenever May was overwhelmed or worried about her ability to pass a class, Carlos tried to find alternatives and helped her “in every way” he could. She says, “Carlos was my mental support.”
In addition, May found that having, “a community of International Students [at] Skyline College was really valuable for me.” The ISP helped her form supportive friendships with people “in the same boat.” She remembers that in addition to providing much-needed companionship, her friends took care of her when she was sick and sent her to Skyline College’s Health Center.
In fact, it was one of her friends who told her about a job opportunity at Skyline College’s Learning Center, where she ended up working as both a math tutor and a student assistant (she also worked at the Transfer Center later on). She found her jobs, “really rewarding, you know, to be able to create connections and be able to help people.” She still talks to people she met while working at Skyline College.
May also got involved with clubs. She joined the Japanese Culture Club and ended up running their social media. She still uses the skills she learned in her current job. In addition, May and her fellow Burmese students, inspired by their peers, worked together to create a Burmese Culture Club. Obtaining the signatures required to form the club was challenging, but the students persevered.
Skyline College’s “very fun” classes also paved the way for May to succeed. She liked the small class sizes and felt they allowed her to connect with her professors, “In Skyline College, I went to office hours all the time.” In one memorable instance May almost failed a biology mid-term; however, the professor went out of his way to help her, and in the end, she got an A in the class.
Initially, May planned to major in Biotechnology, but she quickly realized that lab work was not for her. However, she discovered a love of psychology after taking a general education course. May says that while there is a “stigma” against psychology majors in Myanmar, she realized in the United States that psychology has broad applications. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in Cognitive Science in 2021.
Through this, May has found her calling. Someday, she wants to go back to Myanmar and advocate for the widespread adoption of behavioral marketing and the de-stigmatization of psychology majors. She wants to talk at universities, “to promote what psychology majors can actually do… I feel like people should have a choice to do what they want. Students should have a choice to do what they want without having these stigmas surrounding them.”
Article by Evelyn Rossi