(Editor’s Note: As Commencement nears, WVU Today will occasionally feature some of the University’s most dedicated graduates. Here is the story of one of those outstanding students.)
It was the pride and spirit that attracted Mary Soo Hon to West Virginia University.
It was the support, sense of family and passion that kept her in Morgantown and helped her to succeed.
“The experience I have had here is one that I don’t think I would have been able to get anywhere else,” said Soo Hon, a finance master’s student from Trinidad, Tobago. “I love WVU and I love how much the people at WVU love WVU.”
Soo Hon had her heart set on going to another University, until she met a recruiter from WVU. The recruiter’s excitement about being a Mountaineer was contagious.
“She sold me on school spirit. I could tell how much she loved WVU,” she said. “I left believing that WVU was the only school that I was interested in.”
To see live webcasts of each commencement ceremony, go to http://commencement.wvu.edu/webcasts
To read about other outstanding students who are graduating this May, go to Meet the Graduates.
Staff at the University saw that same passion in her, and ultimately offered her the financial assistance she needed to attend WVU.
“She has always been a loyal Mountaineer – replete with flying WV earrings and trying to recruit other students from Coppin State University to WVU,” said Jonathan Cumming, associate provost for Graduate Academic Affairs. “She is a dedicated, hard worker, with a happy smile and attitude that make all of our days seem brighter.”
Soo Hon is the first in her family of seven to attend college. She has given that privilege top priority in her life, in just five years she will have earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees.
Soo Hon graduated Summa Cum Laude from Coppin State University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in just three years.
Click below to hear Soo Hon talk about the family she found at WVU.
[ Click to download ]
In May 2010, she graduated from WVU’s Masters of Business Administration program in the top 10 percent of her class.
Now, she is on track to earn a master’s degree in finance from WVU by the end of the summer. She is also currently working as a graduate assistant in one of the University’s business offices.
“My dad always stressed the importance of education. He had a lot of expectations for me, and I think I have lived up to those,” she said.
Her father held two jobs in Trinidad before retiring. He was a financial accountant who worked his way to the top by taking every training class that came his way, and he was a carpenter.
With her sister also working on her Masters of Business Administration, Soo Hon hopes to start a family accounting business in the future.
But, for now she is working on getting a private equity internship for the summer – and spending time with her WVU family.
Her WVU “mom,” College of Business and Economics’ Graduate Education Office Administrative Assistant Jane Armstrong, makes sure that Soo Hon has everything she needs.
“She is really far from home and I try to be there for her,” Armstrong said. “We all need someone in our lives to check up on us – make sure we are eating OK and getting enough sleep, someone to vent to and reassure us when we are having a bad day. I am more than happy to be her confidant and friend.”
Sometimes it is a year or more before Soo Hon is able to make the trip home to Trinidad.
“It is a long way, but I don’t miss it that much,” she said. “I talk to my parents on the phone a lot, and I have a family here.”
She has been invited out to dinner, and taken care of over holidays. The experience has also taught her a lot about what it is like to be an American.
“A lot of times people think that because we are international students, Americans learn a lot from us, but we also learn a lot from them,” she said. “These people have really opened my eyes to American lifestyle and culture.”
Through help from her professors, Soo Hon has been exposed to a variety of professional opportunities.
Last year, she was able to participate in a study abroad trip to China to learn more about business.
“It was the best international experience I have ever been on,” she said.
While on the trip, she met WVU alumni and made connections that will help her in future endeavors.
By Colleen DeHart
WVU University Relations/News
CONTACT: University Relations/ News
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.