Creating ‘Family’ in Chico

Creating ‘Family’ in Chico

This feature on recent alumna Min Yeo was part of a special Commencement issue of Inside Chico State. For more stories of this year’s amazing grads, visit www.csuchico.edu/inside.

 

Photo of Min YeoFor most people, a solo move across the globe at age 20 sounds like an intimidating proposition. But Korean international student Kyungmin “Min” Yeo has done it with grace and ease.

Yeo, who graduated in May with a degree in business information systems and a minor in accounting, always dreamed of living and studying in another country. Encouraged by her parents, who still live in her hometown of Seong-ju, South Korea, she came to Chico State in 2011 through the American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI).

“There were a lot of people from all over the place trying to learn English,” she says. “It was a good experience.”

To help herself transition, she interned at Chico’s 1078 Gallery and later volunteered with Community Action Volunteers in Education.

She also served as the SAP club treasurer (“mainly ordering the pizzas for the meetings,” she jokes), tutored students in JavaScript through the Department of Business Information Systems (BIS), and was a member of the BIS Society.

Yeo is an academic rock star: she graduated summa cum laude with a 3.9 GPA. But she’ll be the first to tell you there was a learning curve. The collaborative environment she found in most of her business classes was new, and in the beginning, she was too nervous to form clear sentences during discussions.

“In Korea, we used to just listen to the lectures from professors and take notes,” she explains. She “learned to interact what I have in my mind with other people’s ideas. I still remember after that first class, I talked to my professor and said, ‘Please help me to survive!’ It was a new way to study and be in class.”

She took then-professor Nancy Jones’ advice to prepare talking points prior to class and found success with that strategy. This kind of out-of-classroom attention from faculty has been central to her journey. “All the faculty members, they really support us,” she says. “What I think is different about Chico State is they care about each of us instead of thinking of us as just one. Here, it’s a direct opportunity [to interact].”

Besides adopting the English language, she’s become fluent in the basics of SAP software, earning an entry-level certification from the global technology company in December. It is likely that tenacity that attracted the consulting giant Deloitte to recruit her for a technology analyst position in its Los Angeles offices.

While she was sad to leave Chico, Yeo says the relationships she formed early on proved to be her lifeline for earning her degree and launching her career.

“The people from ALCI and the gallery and my classmates … they are my family in Chico. I don’t think I could be here without them.”

Sarah Langford, Public Affairs and Publications