Khoa Kieu: Outstanding Graduating International Student
Khoa Kieu of Da Nang City, Vietnam is an Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Engineering. The chemical engineering major received multiple scholarships during his years at UMaine, including the Roger B. Hill Engineering Scholarship. He participated in a chemical engineering co-op at Verso Paper in Jay in 2019. On campus, he has worked in Dining Services, and as a teaching assistant and peer tutor. He plans to pursue a career in chemical engineering as a process or production engineer.
What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
Living by myself in a country far away from my hometown taught me many things like cooking, taking care of myself or how I can manage my time well. I have also improved several important skills like teamwork, presentation, problem-solving, which are all necessary to achieve a good academic result and help me with my future job.
Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
At UMaine, meeting many people from different regions and different countries help me learn a lot about other cultures, which broaden my knowledge about the vast world that I’m living in. It also changed my way of seeing people around me and how to respect and acknowledge different opinions. The most important thing that UMaine has taught me is how to think like an engineer. This engineer’s mindset shaped how I should approach a problem, how would I correctly analyze it and how I can figure out the best solution.
UMaine has a great College of Engineering. The Chemical Engineering Department is well-known in the industry. They have good resources to support the students and they have many opportunities for co-op, internships with great companies and corporations. In addition, when I was first admitted to UMaine, the Office of International Program was very friendly and willing to answer any of my questions and concerns.
How would you define the opportunities for student success at UMaine?
The Career Center is a good place to look for co-op and internship opportunities. It’s also a good place to expand your social network. All of my professors are very friendly and always willing to help. Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better? Professor John Hwalek is one of the best professors I have worked with. I had four classes with him at UMaine. He taught the very first chemical engineering class that I took. His friendliness and enthusiasm helped me to adapt into a new type of academic and new culture quickly and comfortably. He is always willing to help me with homework or giving me advice about both academic and extracurricular activities. Thanks to him, I gained much more confidence in communication with other professors.
What advice do you have for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or hesitate to reach out for help if you don’t understand class material. Classes in college move quickly and you don’t want to fall behind.
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