International student, Ching-Hsuan Ma, who goes by Jeff, says he was always an “average” kid, referring to his academic accomplishments. Yet at only 18, he has earned a 3.99 GPA at Shoreline Community College and was selected by his instructors to represent Shoreline as an All Academic student.
Ma grew up with his parents and younger brother in the third largest city in Taiwan, Taichung. “In my family, education is remarkably important,” Ma says. It is important because neither his father or mother have a college education and they have had to work extremely hard to make a living with a small business. Although his dad wants the best for Ma and his younger brother, it is his mother who was very strict with him regarding his studies. She also made sure he experienced the Humanities side, enrolling him in music and drama after school programs.
Ma’s parents agreed that their son should study in the states. “They believe that education is the one thing that can result in a better life for me, therefore they sent me abroad in hope of a better education.”
It looks like they made the right decision. His instructors at Shoreline Community College are impressed with Ma’s quick mind and intuition for subject matter, and say that his engaging personality inspires other students. His mathematics professor was immediately impressed with his quick mind and intuition for math, saying he was among the top of his class in calculus. Lauren Sandven says it was common for Ma to be the first to find the solution to problems during class discussions. “He has a great mathematical intuition,” she says. Those abilities also paved the road to a scholarship. Ma was awarded the Dr. Bill Johnson Memorial Scholarship from the Shoreline Community College Foundation.
He also strives to better the community around him. Earlier this year he led a team in an MLK Jr. Day food drive, and he volunteers at the Math Learning Center at the college.
These skills will support Ma’s plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in physics or engineering. He says he has always been interested in “how the earth functions” and “can’t resist the strong gravity produced by the massive physics knowledge.” His plans also include a master’s degree, most likely in business.
As a member of the All-Washington Academic Team, Ma and Huy Minh Nguyen, another SCC team member this year, will receive a $750 scholarship sponsored by KeyBank and will have the opportunity for other scholarship awards. All team members were honored at a ceremony at Puget Sound Community College on March 24, 2011 at which they received medallions from their college presidents (Jim Hills stood in for President Lambert who is in China) and Gov. Chris Gregoire. The Governor delivered the keynote.
The All-Washington Academic Team program recognizes and honors our state's finest higher education students. The students who make up the All-Washington Team reflect the diversity of the state, maintain high standards of excellence, and contribute positively to the community. Their stories are often inspiring, sometimes surprising, and always reflective of the larger story of the state's community and technical college students.
The program has become the showcase for Washington's community and technical colleges because it honors the academic high achievers, the men and women who have demonstrated a commitment to success in the classroom and in the communities in which they live. This recognition demonstrates the state's commitment to scholarship and community service on the part of those attending the state's public community and technical colleges.