Alumnus of the Month: Mark Li - Kazakhstan
By Mark Li, November 28, 2017
My story began in late August of 2012, the time when I became a Green River College student. I spent my first quarter taking Intensive English courses, which was very exciting because I got to meet people from many different places. My time at Green River got even more exciting after I started working in the International Programs (IP) office as a student receptionist. The IP staff was always supportive and encouraging so it was a great opportunity for me to develop professional skills that became extremely beneficial later in life. When I first registered for academic courses, I was quite frightened because I had no clue what career pathway would correlate with my interests. Fortunately, my academic advisors pointed me in the right direction and made sure that I succeeded in my academic life. They contributed significantly to my academic life by planning out my courses and taking care of the transfer process.
Upon completion of my Associate in Science degree, I transferred to a four-year institution in Minnesota, called St. Olaf College. During my time at Green River, I noticed that most of my peers were unfamiliar with a majority of liberal arts colleges, including St. Olaf. While big universities such as UCLA and UW provide a wide spectrum of courses, small liberal arts colleges make it more accessible for students to gain professional experiences and allow students to easily connect with their professors on a more personal level. At St. Olaf College, I joined a research laboratory, which helped me realize that I wanted to pursue a professional career in Biology.
I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Cell and Anatomy at the University of Iowa. My graduate training incorporates academic courses during the first two years with laboratory research that continues throughout the entire program. Besides hard work and creativity, communication is one of the most essential components of graduate school. Nowadays, people from all over the world pursue their Ph.D. careers in the United States. Thus, being able to understand and respect different perspectives is a key element in the professional world. Personally, Green River played an important role in expanding my cultural background. The rich and diverse community of Green River truly propels cultural exchange between students and faculty.
I believe that it is vital to realize the importance and challenge of finding your niche in this world. For me, it all started with my dream to intellectually contribute to our society. However, believing that my dream could become true was challenging, as I, like many others, had moments of doubt. Luckily, the Green River community and staff shared my enthusiasm and guided me. They created an environment in which I could feel more comfortable and clearly see my goals. If I were to give a piece of advice to future and current Gators, I would say to constantly explore your surroundings and never be afraid of failure. There will be moments when it feels like nothing is going your way and there’s nothing you can do to fix it, but the people at Green River will always get you back on your feet, as long as you reach out to them.