May 05, 2022

“When you come to a new environment, don’t be afraid to make mistakes! You learn from them, and you’ll be a better person than you used to be,” advises Century College student Thinzar Eaindray.  “Don’t get stuck in your comfort zone – go out and try new things!”

Thinzar knows what it’s like to take risks. Traveling halfway around the world, from Myanmar to Minnesota, she is now in her third year at the College, studying in the Business Transfer Pathway program. 

She learned about the College from her cousin, who was an international student at Century College.  Thinzar looked at the College website, saw images of the diverse student population, read about the affordable tuition, and decided to commit to her degree.

Fluency in English as a Second Language

Prior to her arrival in the US, Thinzar took an extra year of English language classes and prepared for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.  When she got to Century College, Thinzar also took English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes for her first two semesters. “It was helpful.  The teachers are patient, and they know how to teach English to non-native speakers,” Thinzar explains. “And I met international students from all over the world.”

Additionally, Thinzar worked as a Tutor Linked to Classes for ESOL faculty member Alicia Andre. (Century College’s Tutors Linked to Classes (TLC) program links a tutor to specific English, Math, Reading, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, and Science courses. The TLC Tutor attends the course they are assigned to and provides tutoring specifically to the students in the courses to which they are assigned.)

Thinzar has compassion for new Century College international students who are studying and learning in a new language.   ”At first, I didn’t believe I could be a tutor, but I did it!” Thinzar says, “I liked helping people who are struggling with English because I, too, have experienced those things.  I know what it’s like, and helping them is rewarding,”

Involvement with Student Life and the Century College Community

The isolation caused by the pandemic has been hard on everyone, particularly international students. “When the College shifted to online classes, I wasn’t able to make new friends,” Thinzar remembers. “It made my English-language skills go down.  In 2021, it was a relief to go back to school and the classroom again.”

In the past year, Thinzar has been involved with the Chinese Culture Club, and loves it. Chinese Culture Club advisor and faculty member Yanmei Jiang encouraged Thinzar to join the Club, and become more involved with the College community.

“As a mentor, Yanmei gives me suggestions and advice about improving leadership skills, the many scholarship opportunities the College offers, and she also provides many networking opportunities,” Thinzar says.  “I feel more involved with school when I participate–it feels more like I belong to the community.”

Thinzar also credits her job at the Century College Bookstore with helping strengthen her English-language and customer service skills. “I really like it because it has helped me improve my speaking skills.  I have to talk on phone, and make phone calls.” For many who are working and learning in a second language, speaking on the telephone can be particularly intimidating.

When she first started her job at the Bookstore, Thinzar avoided making those phone calls. However, she soon viewed this as another learning experience and plunged in. “You have to do it,” she notes, “And it helps with English. I made mistakes, but you learn, even with a few misunderstandings.”

Future Plans

When Thinzar graduates from Century College, she may transfer to either Metropolitan State, St. Thomas, or the University of Minnesota.  In her family, a good education is highly valued.  Her father studied law, her uncles are doctors, and her family owns a healthcare clinic.

She is considering a career in health care management, and may eventually join the famiy business back in Myanmar. The possibility of having an online business is also an appealing option for her.  Having the courage to try new experiences at Century College has made her even more undaunted, and she is confident about her future. 

“I’m so glad I chose Century College,” Thinzar says. “It’s been a positive experience.  The Century College faculty and staff–ESOL lab assistants, tutors, my advisors, counselors and professors–were nice and helpful and offered help when I needed it. It is great to have such good resources.”


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