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Student Snapshot: Mai Le ’25

Mai Le '25

Mai Le ’25 is an a cappella singer, Trout Gallery student-assistant and student leader with Dickinson’s Popel Shaw Center, who's also involved with club volleyball and the campus Vietnamese Association. And that was just during her first year at Dickinson—a year in which she made the Dean’s List and forged new friendships, all while adjusting to living and studying in a new country. Below, she discusses what she learned during this eventful and successful year, including the value of office hours and getting to know her professors.

Hometown:

Hanoi, Vietnam.

Major:

Educational studies and psychology.

Clubs and organizations:  

Infernos, Trout Gallery (interpretation assistant), ACE Peer Mentor Program (peer mentor), Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity (student executive board member), Dickinson Vietnamese Association and women’s club volleyball (former co-president).

Honors/scholarships/awards:

Alpha Lamda Delta, Dean’s List and the 1783 Scholarship.

Favorite movie:

The Three Idiots.

Favorite place on campus:

Tome is home. I cannot tell you how many nights I’ve spent studying until dawn with my lovely friends in the Rector Science Complex.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Sweet and sour chicken and the New York sandwich.

Best thing about my major:

The professors from the psychology and educational studies departments are really passionate about their respective fields. They don’t just stop at teaching; instead, they strive to get to know their students better. The faculty are also really kind, understanding and insightful. They encourage students to step outside of their comfort zones.

Best things about my Dickinson experience so far:

Being involved with the Infernos a capella group and Dickinson’s Vietnamese student association, and all of the wonderful people I’ve gotten to meet and befriend so far.

Favorite class so far:

I’m a really indecisive person, so it is really hard for me to choose a favorite class, but I’ve successfully narrowed my selection down to two courses—PSYC 140: Social Psychology with Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Grace Larson and PSYC 130: Perception, Memory and Thought with Assistant Professor of Psychology Azriel Grysman. These were some of my first psychology courses at Dickinson, and they really inspired me to become a psychology major. The courses were very interactive, and I learned a lot about very different aspects of psychology.

I also really enjoyed FDST 250 with Jenn Halpin, the director of the College Farm. Professor Halpin would drive us to small businesses around the Cumberland Valley, from apple orchards to dairy farms to wineries. This class gave me an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the Cumberland Valley, Pa., and I definitely recommend the course to anyone who is interested in food studies or wants to discover the area around Carlisle.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a doctor, teacher and astronomer.

Little-known hobby/talent:

I love drawing and painting. I often draw mandalas or general doodles in a zentangle style, and I enjoy painting landscapes as well. I also like to make bubble tea. During the past year, I’ve made boba almost every Friday night with my friends. I’ve learned how to make Thai milk tea, Jasmine milk tea, Earl Grey milk tea and most important, brown sugar boba.

Proudest accomplishment so far:

Living independently in a foreign country for an entire school year and meeting amazing friends along the way.

Advice for younger students:

Step out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to do things you’ve never done before. Before doing anything remotely uncomfortable, I tell myself that I just have to endure 20 seconds of cringe before everything will start to become OK again.

I remember feeling so anxious before my first office-hours visit. As an international student, I was pretty unfamiliar with the concept of office hours, and I felt scared to go, since I thought it would get really awkward after the first five minutes, as I would run out of things to say. However, the professors were super nice, helpful and insightful. You can ask them about anything from homework to future career plans to general advice. Most of the time, the professors just want to get to know their students better, so don’t be afraid to go to office hours once in a while, even if you don’t particularly need help with anything. Oh, and don’t be afraid to join clubs and organizations that you have little or no experience in. It’s always great to try something new, and we can all learn from one another.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… my grandmother.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

Treat everyone with kindness, compassion and empathy, because everyone is fighting their own battles.

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Published September 2, 2022