Ma Pan Yone from Myanmar is a master’s student in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling
Ma Pan Yone from Myanmar was born and raised in the Philippines and is a master’s student in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling at the University of Northern Colorado.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I chose the United States because I felt that I was more familiar and comfortable with the U.S. culture. Being raised in the Philippines throughout the 1980s and 1990s, I was exposed to a lot of American pop culture and media. In addition, I prefer the American counseling programs as I feel that there is more opportunity to treat individuals in a holistic manner.
Why did you choose your university/college?
I chose the University of Northern Colorado because of the depth of the program. In addition, I appreciate that my program includes on campus practicum experiences, before sending us out to external internships. The practicum class that I am in has made me feel much more confident as a counselor in training.
What were some struggles you faced and how did you handle it?
As a non-traditional student, I am older than most of my peers and colleagues. I had a lot of feelings of impostor syndrome during the first few months of grad school. In addition, I am an international student, and this is my first experience with studying in the United States full time. I often felt that a lot of my responses in class, and papers that I have written, were drawn from a perspective that was so different to those of my peers. I was afraid of being seen as “other” and “different.” I am very grateful to my professors and friends who have been patient, encouraging me to share my international perspective. I leaned heavily on my classmates when writing papers, as it had been a while since I had been in a graduate program, and I was unfamiliar with the APA writing style. Most importantly, the encouragement that I have received from my professors and my family have allowed me to trust in myself and believe that I am where I am supposed to be.
What is your favorite place on campus?
I really love the fire pit outside of the University Center.
What do you want to do after graduation?
After graduation, I would like to work with patients with long-term medical diagnoses. Due to my own cancer journey over this past year, I discovered how important it is for patients to have secure support. I am looking forward to working with individuals and families as they navigate their own journeys, providing them with the space to authentically process the impact of their diagnosis on their lives, with family and friends, and in other aspects of their lives. Another avenue that I want to explore is working with a non-profit organization with survivors of trauma and trafficking.
What are some of your summer plans?
My plans for the upcoming summer are to complete my last two academic classes while starting my internship.
Does your university/college organize any fun events you’ve attended or are looking forward to?
My university hosts the Greeley Multicultural Fair, which is one of my favorite events. I truly love seeing the diversity of Greeley and how the community comes together to celebrate our uniqueness, as well as how well we can exist together.
Have you traveled around the U.S.? What were some of your favorite places, or where would you like to go?
I have travelled around the United States before becoming a graduate student. My favorite place has been New York because I love Broadway. I have also visited Austin a couple of times for my high school reunion and to visit my friends who live there. Since starting grad school, I haven’t travelled as much as I planned to. This Thanksgiving, though, I am planning to drive down to El Paso, TX, to celebrate with friends.
What is one of your favorite memories from your time as a student?
One of my favorite memories is working with peers to create the Asian Pacific Islander Union, a space for API individuals to find resources and space to be themselves. It was important to us that we provide this space, where API individuals can exist without having to explain themselves, their thoughts, their background, or traditions.
Describe your experience in three words.
Exciting. Intimidating. Successful.
What would you tell students who are considering studying in the USA?
Take advantage of as many opportunities that come your way. Academics aside, you are in a new country and there is so much to learn from people you talk to. Don’t be ashamed of having international experiences when/if you are surrounded by peers who may not have had the same experiences. You bring a unique perspective to every conversation you take part in. Being an international student in the U.S. can get expensive, and we have many limitations regarding employment. Make sure to establish a relationship with your college’s Department for International Education as they may have resources to help you with this. You belong here.
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