Marcella Suta, a former Indonesia Mengglobal mentee, shares about her wonderful IM mentorship experience with IM Advisor, Martin Tjioe, and getting accepted into her #1 dream school: Stanford University!
Studying at one of the top universities in the world was only a dream for me, before I joined Indonesia Mengglobal (IM) and met my mentor, Martin Tjioe.
Who does not want to study abroad? Either to search for a better fortune, to make a significant contribution to Indonesia, to fulfill knowledge gaps, to gain international exposure, or simply to make our parents proud. Making our parents proud is also a legit reason to study abroad, by the way! One of my personal reasons for taking my Master’s in the US (other than the fact that I love Earthquake Engineering so much, of course) is because I want to find some opportunities to work there and make a better living.
It was during the sixth semester of my undergraduate study at Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) that I started formulating a plan to study in the US, specifically my 2 dream schools: Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
At the time, I thought that it was such a ‘mission impossible’ to get accepted to those universities. Firstly, I did not have ample research experiences (this is probably also the case for most of you since ‘research’ is not an emphasis in our education system, right?). I also had never won any prestigious competitions, because I was too focused on my academic performance. I also did not know how to write a compelling essay, and I was not even familiar with the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which is rumored to be a really harsh standardized test! The list of worries went on and on. For you with one or more of the same fears, do not worry – you are on the right track by spending your valuable 5-10 minutes to read this article and thinking of joining the Indonesia Mengglobal (IM) mentorship program.
Lucky for me, one of my best friends found out about the IM mentorship program and told me to apply. I was really excited about the program and sent my application the following week. I ended up being selected and matched with mentor Martin Tjioe. Not only did I get a ‘Graduate Admission 101’ from him, I also learned a lot of life lessons and changed into a better person because of him (this probably sounds like an exaggeration, but this is the truth!). For your information, IM crews always try their best to bring you the perfect match. In my case, Martin was a Stanford graduate who also happened to study Civil Engineering, so we had a lot in common! He shared with me about his learning experiences at Stanford as well as some recommended professors and courses.
Martin encouraged me to dream big, but also to be realistic. Our game plan was to apply to 2 dream schools, 2 okay schools, and 1 safety school. (Warning!!) Working on the applications requires a really strong commitment. I remember spending more time and effort on the application than on my studies. This is not an easy process, and having someone to back you up is important. Martin encouraged me to create a list of application deadlines, to be more organized, and to set a schedule – pushing me to successfully send well-formulated applications before their respective deadlines.
For me, the most challenging part was writing a compelling ‘statement of objective’ on the basis of my own story. I found it really tough ensuring that the essays had a nice flow, feel personal, and stay in line with the respective universities’ visions. I also had to be very careful with my word selections and use of grammars. Martin and I worked on the essay for around 2 months. We kept iterating on the essay, and always found some areas of improvement! Not to mention, I also had to draft some letters of recommendation, as some of my Professors asked me to help them write.
Apart from the application, most importantly, Martin gave me many words of encouragement and motivation. Everytime I came close to giving up, I remembered that someone else was also in the fight with me, and it helped me survive…
And thrive! I ended up getting accepted at Stanford University, which is my number 1 dream school! This is one of my life’s biggest achievements to date. All of the hard work and tears eventually paid off.
For all of you who are encountering challenges in your application process and or have yet to be successful in getting accepted to your dream university or scholarship program, do not give up. Keep in mind that we definitely will have ups and downs, but the sun will rise and we will try again! And again and again! Keep calm and join the IM Mentorship program!
Photos are provided by author.