My Educational Experiences and Future Plans
The following is one of two winning essays composed for the 2012 The Mary Cone Barrie Scholarship. The scholarship is one of few annual awards that recognize non-traditional students and their pursuit of lifelong learning.
My name is Moon Soe, and I am a junior student at Metropolitan State University, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, pursuing a degree in secondary mathematics education. This spring 2012, I am taking four classes at the indicated institute above while also working full-time during weekdays. I am planning to finish all my required courses in spring, 2013 and begin my student teaching in Fall 2013. Coming to Minnesota as a refugee from Thailand, I was so enthusiastic and hopeful to continue my education for a better life. I attended Century College as soon as I got my GED six months after I resettled in Minnesota. I was the first generation who finished a two year college, and I’m now working on to finish my bachelor degree. I am originally from Burma (also called Myanmar) and also an Ethnic Karen, one of the very recent immigrants in Minnesota and in many other countries all over the world. While living in a refugee camp in Thailand, I was hoping for a better life, but I didn’t have a choice or a chance. Sometimes I blamed myself because I felt envious of the world and people that had more opportunities. Living in the camp for 13 years, I thought I was never going to be able to continue my education, and I had so little hope when I thought about my future. However, I am really happy now that I could start to dream about my future in real life and not a daydream anymore. Working fulltime and going to school fulltime might be a little difficult, but in order to finance my family without giving up on my dream, I motivate myself everyday to have enough energy. I understand how it must have been hard for my family since they do not speak English and understand much about life process in the United States.
When I started college, I was very happy, but clueless. It felt amazing that I had the opportunity to continue my education, but I did not know how to make it through my first semester. However, I said to myself that I should grab this great opportunity, or it would go pass me. I looked up for supports from every resource I could get from college, and surprisingly I made it through smoothly for the last three years. I feel so grateful and honored that I am going to be the first generation in my family ancestry who is graduating from college.
Undeniably, I believe there are many people in the world that are in the same situation as me. Having gone through a hard time to survive, I would say it is fortune and hope that bring me to this life stage. At the beginning it was challenging for me to declare my major because the world I grew up is too different to where I am now. However, I always knew in my heart that I love working with teenaged children. Also as a student, I always love math and have great desire to enrich my knowledge in mathematics education. After assessing what my passions and my abilities are, I decided to become an urban secondary math teacher hoping I could help guide these wonderful children to grow intellectually and pursue what they desire to.
My interest in teaching began while I was teaching as a non-licensed teacher for almost two years at a diverse post-secondary school in the refugee camp. However, I felt bad for I was not able to provide my students with the best quality education because I was not well-trained but given the job due to community’s need. Then, since 2009 until now, having worked in an urban secondary public school in Saint Paul as an educational assistant, I really love my job as an educator. As a result, I would like to take a step further to become a good educator for the lifelong learning journey of the new generations. After I get my teaching license, I am planning to teach at an urban secondary school. I am also very proud to be part of community education and represent many Karen immigrants in Minnesota. Receiving scholarship would really help me graduate timely. This scholarship is not going to be just a financial support, but for me it is evidence to prove to my urban students as someone who was once hopeless now has accomplished something great.
My last hope is one day I would like to become a useful resource person in my Karen community as a professional in education. My fellow ethnic Karen has been fleeing war and became refugees for many decades. Many generations missed educational privilege. Many children did not have educational opportunities because of life they had to go through. I was once like these children and was not happy with my life. Therefore, I hope to be able to help make a difference in these children life so that their dream may come true as other children in the world.
To learn more about the Mary Cone Barrie Scholarship, please click here.
Author Perspective: Student