Building Community and Making an Impact at Foothill College
Bridging the gap for other Malaysian students amid the pandemic.
Hi everyone! I am Anderson Lam, an international student from Malaysia and a sophomore currently majoring in Engineering and Computer Science at Foothill College, a community college located at Los Altos Hills, California. I am transferring this fall to a 4-year institution, and I really hope to transfer to UC Berkeley or Carnegie Mellon University as an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) major.
Why community college?
I first chose the States to study abroad because I already knew what I wanted to study, and Silicon Valley is the best place to learn about chips and machines. But why community college? I would say the experience and the tuition fees. Tuitions fees of community college are almost half of the tuition fees at four-year institutions. Foothill College is located at the heart of Silicon Valley, which allows me to have a road trip to many places like Mountain View, Cupertino, San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and more. Now, here we go, my college story!
My journey begins
Amid a confusing time of this global pandemic — escalating cases, deaths rising into the millions, international transmissions, with new variants, responses, and protests — I set out on my college journey. Navigating the road of an international student during the pandemic is always a little tricky; however, I was astonished by my college's intelligent response, quickly transitioning to online courses, which meant that students were prepared to take classes virtually even from their home country. Foothill College supports me in every possible way as a new international student, and I am glad that I am part of the Foothill De-Anza family. I felt loved and welcomed. Thanks to our beloved college president for consistently supporting the students. Go Owls!
Able to find my footing, it struck me how many others were not as fortunate. Students shared with me ways they were struggling, and I could not stop my heart's longing to aid them. I began networking with other students, reaching out to them, and helping them connect with each other. I tried new endeavors, seeking ways to involve myself, support others in their goals and dreams, and make sure other students were included.
I started to join many virtual educational fairs with Foothill-De Anza international recruitment team director, Miss Marilyn Cheung, and Indonesia-based advisor, Mr. Greg, since August 2020. Thanks to them because they have inspired me and taught me many practical communication and marketing skills. They also connected me with different education agencies and services around the world, such as EducationUSA Singapore, EducationUSA Malaysia, 2plus2upaths, AUG Malaysia, and others. Since then, I have been used as a reference and someone a prospective student and parents can talk/answer questions to if they want insight from a current student at Foothill-De Anza college.
In order to help more students and share the latest information about community college enrollment policies, I became a mentor in EducationUSA Malaysia, Communication Officer of the National Assembly of Malaysian Students in America (NAMSA), North America Council Mentor of the International Council of Malaysian Students (ICMS), and lastly, Mentor and Facilitator of USAPPS. Remembering I was alone and lonely as an international student when I first started Foothill College, I have decided to stand up as the Lead President of Foothill International Students Connection Club (ISC), which now consists of more than 70 international students from all over the globe and has more than 17 officers who are passionate and enthusiastic in helping more international students and connecting them together. International Students Connection is a community of International Students coming together as a family, a home away from home for the next couple of years before transferring to another university. ISC also celebrates different cultures and enhances appreciation for International Students within the Foothill College community.
What I gained
It felt great helping so many, but more than that, I was proud to have built a like-minded community, all striving to have a positive impact. I firmly believe that building a strong-knit community is what truly gets us through challenging times, and the smallest act of kindness can have a profound impact on someone’s life. Studying at Foothill College has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone to speak to others, collaborate, and be a student leader. I have never regretted studying in a community college or even the States. For sure, all these came from my parents and siblings' support all the way. Thank you, my dad, my mum, brother, sisters, and every fantastic people and friend I met throughout my college journey in the States. I love you all.
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