Student of the Month: Kiki van Essen, The Netherlands

By Lansing Bryan, July 2, 2015

Kiki van Essen is from the Netherlands and came to Green River College for the Gap Year Program in the fall of 2012.

"When I first arrived at Green River College, I was 17, shy, lonely and homesick. I did not want to join in the activities. Orientation was really great because I could see right away that Green River staff and students really care. They kept checking on me to make sure I was okay and encouraged me a lot. By the end of the first quarter, I was a lot happier. I started getting involved in many activities on and off campus and started making a lot of friends. I realized that I could make friends anywhere, not just in my home country.

"By the second quarter I started to discover that I really liked the American style of teaching. Instead of one final exam, we are given multiple tests and assignments that make up the grade. I decided then that I would pursue my AA at Green River and then transfer to a four-year university. This was not an easy choice because I knew finances would be a struggle.

"However, Green River is filled with supportive faculty and staff. They gave me the courage to have trust in myself and believe that I can do the things I want to do. They taught me that I can reach my goals if I work hard.

"When I look back at my years at Green River College I can feel a lot pride. Some of my most memorable accomplishments are: being an International Student Ambassador Apprentice, Marketing Assistant, Peer Volunteer, President of the European Club, winning the Club of the Year award, being a German Teachers assistant, Volunteering for CORE, attending the Harvard National Model United Nations conference in Boston, MA, being chosen as a speaker for the Summit to Success conference, and becoming a stronger and more confident person.

"I graduated from Green River on June 12, 2015. My dream is to transfer to Pacific Lutheran University and major in Communications. I decided to take an Optional Practical Training year to help earn money towards my degree. I have had several jobs which have given me both work and life experience. I am also working with DUO to secure funding for my education at PLU.

"A lot is possible at Green River if you take the intial step, reach out, and get involved. I am not the shy girl I was when I first arrived. I have friends from all over the world, even places I never knew existed. I have a lot more confidence, I am a lot more independent and I am not afraid to pursue my dreams."

Photo of Green River College student Kiki Van Essen with friends at graduation

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