How did I end up here?

The story of how I ended up here at the University of Mount Union is unlike most of the others.

Mount Union was never my first choice. In fact, it was not even an option when I was looking at schools to transfer to from my home of Penang, Malaysia. No offense. You see, Mount Union is a small, liberal arts college located in a little city called Alliance in the state of Ohio. That sentence alone was enough to drive away many students where I come from.

The problem is that, in Malaysia (and most Asian societies), we put too much emphasis on the name or brand of the school. We also think too much about the city and where it is at. Truth is, it doesn’t really matter.

It was already my sophomore year in college when I was searching for an American institution to transfer to. I studied in a program that allows us to take general education courses and then transfer to an American college to complete our education. The names that came up while I was looking for colleges were all big state institutions; names like the University of Kansas, West Virginia University and Ohio’s very own Ohio State University to name a few.

Eventually, after spending months sending out applications (and my horrible transcript), I had finally decided upon a school. I would have friends there, which was always going to be a good thing, but it was also a very big school that has a solid reputation. I was going to KU.

With my flights booked for Lawrence, Kansas, I had everything set and was excited to finally start my American college life. I had all my commitments in my hometown dealt with, and goodbyes prepared. But what I didn’t know was that two years later, I would not be in Kansas.

A couple of months before I was scheduled to leave, a recruit from an unknown college called University of Mount Union came to my home state of Penang. He had connections there. Being a small state, my parents happened to know the parents of an alumnus. Through their connections, the recruit and my parents met. I was not there to talk to him. After the discussion, it was agreed that I would give it a shot and apply for Mount Union. With little time left, it was uncertain as to whether I would even get accepted or if so, get it done in time.

I heard back from Mount Union a couple of weeks later and a pretty good offer was placed at my table. It was a difficult decision to make. I had my KU acceptance letter sitting in front of me while the offer from Mount Union sat next to it. Going to KU meant going to a big college and experiencing what we normally see on TV. Going to KU also meant that I had my friends from home there with me. Mount Union, being a small college in an unknown city, was a huge uncertainty that I wasn’t sure I was willing to gamble on.

Inevitably I had to make a decision. Mount Union was going to be more affordable than KU, but what it offered was way more than just financial. Mount Union would have smaller class sizes; no bigger than any class I have been in while I was still home. Mount Union was always going to have a better and more inclusive environment.

My flights to Kansas were changed. Canton-Akron Regional Airport was my new destination.

Here I am, two years later, blogging for the college that I had never heard of before; being a proud Purple Raider. I had the opportunity to play a season of soccer for the junior varsity team and train with the tennis team. Oh, not forgetting the fact that I was elected president for the Association of International Students.

Funny how things take a totally different course and change your life forever.

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