Do you need a little motivation? Not sure what your next step should be or if you should even exert energy into submitting applications for fellowships, internships, or organizations? Meet Katherine Tran, let her experience as a distinguished Frederick Douglas Global Fellowship participant, inspire your next step.
Tell me a little about yourself and your journey to UTSA?
My name is Katherine Tran, I’m currently a senior studying Management with a concentration in International Management in the College of Business. I’m currently a Peer Mentor with PIVOT – First to Go and Graduate. The program is designed specifically to help first generation college students by providing them with different resources through workshops, networking events, and mentoring with peers along with a first generation faculty member who also serves as a faculty coach for mentees. Together we are a Familia. Beside my academia, I’m currently interning with the UTSA International Admissions Office. I help manage some alumni databases, social media platforms, and develop marketing strategy for International Students. I love being involved in my community here on campus. I am the former President of the First to Go and Graduate Student Organization and Student Member of Alpha Delta Pi where I hold a leadership positions, as Panhellenic Delegate and former Leadership Chair and as well as being a student member of the First Gen Council.
I came home to UTSA in the Fall of 2014. I graduated from Alief Taylor High School in Houston, TX. Originally UTSA was not where I was heading – however, I’m glad I’m attending UTSA. There is nowhere else I would want to spend my college years. San Antonio and UTSA hold a special place in my heart because they are the places which have taught me about myself, as a student and a friend. It just feels right being a part in the study body at UTSA, and I can hardly believe I only have 8 months left.
Did you ever imagine having the opportunity to participate in such a prestigious fellowship? What encouraged you to apply?
Absolutely not. This fellowship is one of my biggest accomplishments. Studying abroad gave me experiences which not only helped me academically but which have shaped me as well. With the help of my then supervisor, Tiffany Jackson, I decided to apply despite knowing I was competing with many individuals across the United States. I felt I would rather know that I put forth all possible effort in my attempt to receive such a prestigious fellowship, rather than always wondering “what if.”
How would you describe your experience with the fellowship?
It’s indescribable. The exposure to a whole new country with 9 other individuals and immersing yourself in an unfamiliar city you call home for the next 4 weeks is a learning experience in itself. During my time in London, I was able to study Intercultural Communication and what it means when we are talking about intercultural competence and self-awareness. The course truly reshaped my perspectives and allowed me to see the world through a new lens.
What did you enjoy most from this experience?
I really enjoyed meeting Professor Quinton, or “Papa Q”, as we called him. He is an amazing educator and had a remarkable way of teaching. Also, being able to share such a wonderful experience with my 9 fellow Frederick Douglass peers was unforgettable. I learned a lot from my fellows, and their stories are so special to me.
What lessons did you learn?
I learned the importance of self-awareness and how it is vital to have some personal time to yourself. I didn’t realize the importance of self-awareness until I attended a lecture where we sat outside in a park and simply listened to our thoughts. It felt as if the world had paused and was truly an eye opening experience.
It was really fascinating to learn how different the vocabulary can be within the same language. For example, Band-Aids are called plasters in London, or instead of saying “I’ll call you later”, they said “I’ll ring you later.” The colloquialisms were really interesting.
What has been most surprising to you taking on this opportunity?
I was very surprised with how quickly I learned about my environment and adapted to a routine in London. From waking up and walking 20 minutes to class each day, walking back and just walking from point A to point B. I miss it- the walking everywhere, the underground, the people. I feel like I left a part of me in London.
What skills are most important (that assisted you to get this fellowship)?
The skills that helped me the most while in London were being able to adjust and adapt quickly. As you place yourself in a new setting and environment, you have to make sure you can come to terms with your surroundings easily. For instance, the escalators in the underground take a little getting used to! You have to stand on the right side if you are not walking or moving, and save the left side for those people who are moving at a faster pace. I was in complete culture shock because in the US there’s no system for how to properly move on an escalator, or even walking on the sidewalk. Being able to learn quickly allowed me to merge with the London culture and feel like a local.
As a current UTSA student, what helped you prepare for this endeavor?
I appreciate the different workshops hosted by UTSA. I gained a lot of new assets, skills and knowledge that I otherwise wouldn’t have prior to going on this trip. I encourage all students to take advantage of the different programs, workshops, and training that UTSA provides.
What advice would you give to your fellow UTSA peers if they were interested in this fellowship or something similar?
I’ll keep it short and sweet. DO IT! Don’t question why, what if, or the outcomes. JUST GO FOR IT. With greater risks, there is great reward.
What opportunities have been most exciting here at UTSA?
I absolutely LOVE the community here at UTSA. The student body is filled with diversity in so many student organizations on campus, and faculty and staff are always so helpful in all aspects of my academic career. Being able to attend Best Fest, UTSA games, the President’s BBQ and Midnight Light are some of my favorite traditions here at UTSA. The community is incredible.
What general advice would you give anyone interested in college/university?
It is going to be rough, because you are leaving home for the first time and it’s a big transition. You’re placing yourself into this whole thing called “college.” But, remember college is what you make of it, so get involved on campus! Join something you love; find your home away from home in a student organization. But just know that this is the BEST 4 years of your life, so get ready to learn, grow, and gain new experiences!
What’s next for you?
I graduate in May 2018 with my BBA. I hope to have something lined up for me prior to graduating. My goal is to work for the U.S Embassy but I have a few other plans as well. If nothing works out, I’m going back to Houston to spend some time with my parent since I’ve been away for so long. I need be there because I miss so much: my parents are getting older and my siblings are growing up too fast. I hope to find a career in my degree that allows me to travel and work, because after my experience with London, I definitely want to venture to other new and exciting places.