Five years ago, I arrived at GRCC with only two tools at hand: a mind that hungered for knowledge and a heart that longed for interactions. In spite of my certainty of the field of study that I was going to pursue during my time in the US, my knowledge about the US education system and how to get into the top your-year colleges were very vague. Fortunately, GRCC has the most wonderful international advisors ever who prepared me with all of the essential knowledge to achieve my goals. It was during this time, I learned that extracurricular activities were just as important as a flawless transcript. With the help of GRCC advisors and GRCC International Program staff I was able to get accepted to the University of California at Berkeley to study Chemical Engineering & Material Sciences.
In no time I was actively engaged in numerous activities both on and off campus. I initially started off with volunteer work as a member of the construction team for the Habitat for Humanity Build-A-Thon in Hillsboro, Oregon. With enormous support from friends, family, and the local community, I was able to make the $1000 fund-raising target a viable one. What was remarkably significant to me, was understanding how I could help change somebody's life by giving to the community and in return, it was the gratitude that I received, the precious memories and the personal growth that I would never find in any academic environment.
Through the enjoyable experiences of my college years, I learned what education is truly about: the exchange of knowledge. This acknowledgement, in no time, consolidates my determination to advance my learning to a higher level with a Master Degree in Chemical Engineering specializing in Process System Engineering with special focus in green manufacturing and photovoltaic technology at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Furthermore, as an international student I always aim to enrich my experiences by being in different parts of the United States, and CMU gave me the chance to explore the East Coast of the country.
Looking back to the very first day I set foot in the US, I am truly grateful for having the chance to know all of the wonderful people who inspired me, helped me, and encouraged me to be able to do the things that I am doing right now. Coming to GRCC provided the perfect driving force to start my engine and I believe that if one strives hard enough for what they want, they can go everywhere from GRCC.
Vivid images of exotic rainforests, chubby pandas and red sand dunes flashed through my mind as I wrote this autobiography. Having lived in four countries, I am shaped by a mosaic of cultures across the globe. Even though the learning environments vary a lot, they have all provided me with amazing and rewarding experiences that helped unify my goal into becoming a women scientist.
Born in Malaysia, a country with rich and colorful heritage, I enjoy eating Indian food, visiting Malay friends during their Islamic festivals and celebrating the joyous Chinese New Year with my families. Due to my father’s career, our family moved between Malaysia and China multiple times. My high school education was split between these two countries. Both education systems emphasize stringent academic standards and active co-curriculum participation. Among the arrays of classes I took, I was always most interested and passionate about biology. Intrigued by the delicate protein machineries packed within a tiny cell, I eagerly sought opportunities to explore biology in settings beyond the classroom. When I joined the Red Cross and volunteered in my school’s clinic, I began to see how knowledge from the life sciences can transform and touch upon our daily lives.
With a dream to pursue top-notch education in biomedical science, I came to the United States in 2005. At first, I had a deep culture shock in face of the unfamiliar environment and foreign cultures. Every assumption about how things work, what people care about and the way they think turned out to be wrong. When I was confused and frustrated, my friends and International Program advisors here at Green River Community College offered me much inspiration and support. Their advice and companion was the powerful driving force that led me to discard my bias and to step out of my comfort zone. As I began to participate in community services and student organizations, I realized the unlimited opportunities that awaited me to cultivate new skills and leadership potentials. Therefore, I strove to become as an active community member while maintaining academic excellence. Serving as the international student ambassador and becoming the president of Phi Theta Kappa were among the highlights of my college life.
The momentum I gained from community college fueled strong determination in me to thrive and succeed as a transfer student in University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As soon as I transferred to UCLA, I seized the opportunities to intern at the UCLA Medical Center as well as getting hands-on training in biomedical research. My experience of shadowing doctors and observing surgeries have created a long-standing fascination in me towards the complexity and varied nature of disease processes. On the other hand, completing an honor thesis in the field of stem cell biology has been the most satisfying component of my undergraduate experience. My research in stem cell biology has bred strong curiosity in me to delve into regenerative medicine and explore its therapeutic and clinical application. With the goal to become a researcher, I decided to use the gap year following graduation to gain more research experience and to further prepare for the rigorous training of a PhD program.
An opportunity knocked on my door towards the end of my junior year. I won a competitive graduate fellowship from a groundbreaking research institution in Saudi Arabia called King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). As soon as I graduated from UCLA in August 2009, I embarked on an exciting voyage to Saudi Arabia to pursue my Masters in bioscience and to explore part of the world that I would not otherwise have seen. It has been nine months since I joined KAUST as a member of the founding class. Besides having an amazing cultural experience, I am working toward a thesis-based research at Dr. Jasmeen Merzaban’s stem cell lab. Through hands-on research in both my undergraduate and graduate studies, I discovered the open-endedness, the intellectual exchanges, the frustrations and the excitement of scientific inquiry.
My study abroad experiences in China, the United States and Saudi Arabia have instilled in me a deeper cultural awareness along with a spirit of adventure. These experiences have prepared me well to adapt quickly when I immerse into a new culture. Although the cultural environment around me has changed in each place, my interest in biomedical science has persisted and grown with time. With stronger preparation in research, I look forward to the excitement and challenges that await me during my PhD training. ”
Christopher M. Lilyblad was born in Luxembourg and resided there until attending Green River from 2006-2007. He subsequently transferred to the University of Washington and received his Bachelor's degree in International Studies, Magna Cum Laude, in December 2009. As an undergraduate, Chris studied abroad in Vietnam and in Egypt. In addition, he worked for a US Department of State program at GRCC, for Unicef in Luxembourg, and in the Executive Office of President Clinton at the William J. Clinton Foundation in New York. Currently, Chris is doing recruiting and outreach for Green River in Europe, prior to attending the University of Oxford for a Master of Science in Global Governance and Diplomacy this coming fall.
"I first came to Green River in hopes of attaining a Basketball scholarship at a NCAA Division 1 University by playing for the Green River basketball team. However, as I began exploring the diverse academic offerings at Green River, my professors and the Green River staff inspired me to shift my focus towards academia and public service, two areas that had previously not been primary interests of mine.
As I began discovering my strengths in the social sciences, I became increasingly interested in global affairs and collective issues that transcend boundaries. Due to my language abilities in French, German and Luxembourgish, as well as the international experience that I had previously accumulated as an American raised abroad, I thought that I would have a natural advantage in this subject area. Hence, I began tailoring my coursework at Green River to coincide with my newfound interest in this academic discipline and to meet degree requirements in International Studies or International Relations at four-year universities.
In this regard, one of the most pivotal classes that I undertook at Green River was a modern world history class during summer quarter '07. It covered all major events that took place from 1750 until the present, which roughly coincides with the origins of the formation of our modern world system when the Industrial Revolution and the end of the Napoleonic wars created an environment conducive to the beginning of the processes of globalization. Simultaneously, I was working for a U.S. Department of State program that is hosted annually by Green River to bring student leaders from South Asia to the United States in order to promote mutual understanding through education. The first program of this kind at GRCC brought twenty Bangladeshi students to the area and was held in the summer of 2007. I was very fortunate that Barry and Edith vested so much confidence in me, as to allow me to represent the program as a 'student ambassador.'
I believe that the agglomeration of these two factors - a highly stimulating survey of world affairs while working hands-on to promote better relations between the US and a foreign country - propelled me to further immerse myself in this field and aspire to become a Diplomat in the U.S. Department of State, which is currently still my primary ambition.
Subsequently, I transferred to the University of Washington to complete my degree in International Studies, focusing on problems of conflict and peace, and how these problems can be addressed through foreign policy and diplomacy. Moreover, I sought to enhance my chances of entering graduate school and ultimately working for the State Department by studying in Vietnam and at the American University in Cairo, as well as working for Unicef-Luxembourg. I graduated in December of 2009 and went on to work as an intern in the Executive Office of President Clinton at the Clinton Foundation, an organization that aims to improve sustainable human development, environmental problems, and a variety of other global issues. This was truly an amazing experience that I will cherish and benefit from for the rest of my life.
In retrospect, as I prepare to embark on a one-year Master of Science program at the in Global Governance and Diplomacy, it was Green River that provided me with the necessary tools and turning point to commence this journey in the field of international affairs. Green River, in a very important way, gave me a fresh start that allowed me to reevaluate my life goals and without the opportunities, encouragement and support from the Green River International Programs staff, I would probably not be entering the University of Oxford this fall. For this reason, when GRCC approached me to do some recruiting and outreach in Europe on their behalf, I was highly enthusiastic about the prospect of being able to start giving back to Green River all that it provided me."
I am a staff member of the United Nations Development Programme. My duty station is in Africa in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. I work as a Gender + HIV/AIDS Programme Analyst for the HIV/AIDS Unit in UNDP Lesotho.
Green River Community College helped me to realize my dream to work for the United Nations. In the U.N, the ability to work harmoniously with persons of different nationalities and cultural background is essential. During my two years of study at GRCC and part-time work at the Student Office, I had interacted with various types of people with different ethnic backgrounds, culture and manner of living. Especially, I had closely worked with five different nationalities from the U.S, Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia, and Sweden at the Student Office. They greatly helped me to understand how to communicate with people in a culturally sensitive manner. Since then, I became interested in working in a multicultural environment and eventually led me to study the field of international development at the Department of Geography at the University of Washington in Seattle. WA, U.S.A.
While I was studying at UW, I further became interested in the issues of gender and women’s empowerment and set my career goal to work in one of the United Nations organizations. It took me ten years to get a job at the U.N. During a series of telephone interviews with the U.N., I always shared my experiences in GRCC with the interviewees because my two years of experiences in GRCC has shaped who I am now. Because I have attended GRCC, I was able to cultivate a deep understanding in multiculturalism since my early 20s and to achieve my goal to work as a U.N officer.
Green River's robust International Program provided very valuable resource for international students. Dedicated advisors and fun activities made this study aboard experience better! Ross Jennings and IP advisors had guided me since my first day in Green River till I graduated. Even today, Ross still encourages and inspires me to go to the next level! Without their care, I wouldn't have gotten here today. Thank you!
I just graduated from UC Berkeley with a BS in Chemical Engineering in December 2009. During my time at Cal, I had the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research as well as industrial internship. Currently I do full-time research on membrane technologies in the Chemical Engineering Department at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA.
I will be attending King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia starting Fall 2010 for a Master's program. After finishing the degree there, I'm hoping to have an international career in the field of engineering, especially on clean energy.
When I first came to the US, I did not know anyone, and the International Programs at Green River helped tremendously, all the way from living arrangement to academic planning. I have seen and heard about other colleges' and universities' international programs and none of them (especially for a community college) come close to the quality and attention given at Green River.
As I remember it, everyone was friendly and helpful. The instructors went above and beyond by not only teaching, but also mentoring. Moreover, international students are encouraged to be active in campus. I had the opportunity to work as an International Student Ambassador, and the job definitely had a big impact to me on being a better leader and team player even now, when I don't work there anymore. With the support given by IP and glowing recommendations given by GRCC instructors, I managed to transfer to Berkeley and later on received the KAUST Discovery Scholarship.
Jingtao "Tommy" Yang
Currently, I work at Amazon.com as an Operation Associate. I am also a member of the Advisory Board for Asian Business Student Association that I co-founded at University of Washington. My short term plan is to stay with Amazon in the U.S., learn as much as I can, and be able to move to a more strategic role inside Amazon. For longer term, I would like to go back to China and help Amazon shape its strategy to further explore Chinese market.
Coming to the States for the first time, it was definitely a huge challenge for me to get used to living in a drastically different culture. The one year in Green River, in class I learned about all variety of different subjects to expand my horizon; after class, I had the opportunities to explore American education system, living style, and culture. These may seem challenging to do; but the solid grasp of these fundamentals have helped me a long way inside and outside of both school and work.
Sookmun "Christina" Wong
Hello fellow GRCC alumni. Greetings from Singapore!
I’m an alumna for GRCC as well. Currently, I’m working as a Data/Systems Specialist at Thomson Reuters. My company is an information service provider and I’m under Financial and Media organization. I started out as a Data Analyst in a production team and covered data for Asia exchanges. Later, I was given an opportunity to be involved in a migration project in Beijing office and had worked there for 9.5 months. This oversea working experience had landed me my current job. My job involves managing data enhancements projects for Financial Data and data integration projects for system platforms.
I happy with my current job role now, there’s a lot of flexibility in working hours and opportunities to work with different teams and organizations. As for my future plan, I hope to move on to the next level in my company’s corporate ladder.
I have been working for 5 years before I decided to get my college degree in 1999. So, 2 plus 2 program was very suitable for me: 2 years in GRCC (associate degree) and 2 years in a university. I don’t think I will be able to catch up with my studies if I had gone to a 4 years university. With the smaller classes at GRCC I was able to catch up with my studies and get use to study life. With that, I was able to go to the university I want to go to: University of Washington, Seattle. I have also met a few good friends at GRCC whom I’m still in contact with today.
Talking about GRCC just brings back good memories.
Ricardo Mastrorocco da Silva "Ricky Mastro"
I graduated with an Intensive English as a Second Language (IESL) diploma from GRCC in the spring of 1999. Then, I was accepted to the Lead and Earn Program. There, I worked with an excellent group of students and mentors like Bonnie Fox, Student Life Director.
While in this program, I founded the group, GRACTORS - Green Rivers Actors, and I did several activities like dinner theaters and talent shows.
I finished my studies at GRCC the spring of 99. Upon graduation I received the President´s award, the International Award and Leadership award.
It would be unfair of me to try and list the names of all the people who helped me grow at GRCC. There I learned how to be a man, and most importantly an artist. My several theater classes with Gary Taylor were proof of that.
After GRCC, I transferred my AA degree to the University of Washington where I got my BA in Drama. At the university, I got the Mary Gates Endowment for Leadership. This grant was given to the students from the Mary Gates Foundation lead by Bill Gates.
I got back from the U.S. at the end of 2000. Back in Brazil, I started my career as an actor. After some years, I realized that I wanted to be a film director, so I started to study at Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (FAAP) here in São Paulo. At my Brazilian school, I had a chance to direct and write several films. My first documentary "Um dia na vida de uma estrela" was produced in 2006 and is still screened on a Brazilian television channel.
In 2008, I shot a movie in film called "Five Minutes" which was screened in more than 35 Brazilian and international festivals. In 2009, I directed and wrote: "The Strongest" which had its premiere at the São Paulo International Festival and won the Latino Screenplay Competition with the Final Draft International Promise Award in Los Angeles, USA. That same year, I was part of a film project in São Paulo where 12 directors received a 250 Euros budget to shoot a short movie and finally we were able to get to the 60th Berlinale Film Festival this year.
Now, I am preparing myself to go to the Cannes Film Festival with a program of the Real Studios to be a director of photography in a documentary that will be shot there, and it will be screened at March du Film.
You may see some of my work at my personal website www.rickymastro.com