The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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The Lives of International Students

Three life history interviews conducted by Chris Petersen.

March 3 - 6, 2015


In March 2015, three oral history interviews were conducted with four OSU international students. The intent of these interviews was to learn more about each student as an individual, trace changes in their attitudes toward the United States, and document their perspectives on the international student experience at Oregon State University.

Participants in the first interview were Jenny Urbina and Kong Zheng "Titus" Yeang. Urbina is a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Science. Born in Pamplona, Colombia, she conducted her undergraduate studies in the Colombian city of Medellín, during which time she participated in a formative research project on amphibians in the Andes mountains. She next moved to the Netherlands, where she carried out her master's degree studies at the University of Amsterdam, focusing on the impact that the introduction of rainbow trout has made on Colombia's amphibian populations. Funded by a Fulbright scholarship, Urbina came to OSU in 2011 where she is pursuing her doctorate and continuing her research on the impact of various environmental stressors on amphibian communities.

Kong Zheng "Titus" Yeang is an undergraduate at OSU, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Yeang was born in the state of Penang in his home country of Malaysia. An accomplished practitioner of the traditional martial art chanbara, Yeang competed internationally growing up, representing Malaysia at tournaments in Japan and elsewhere. After completing high school, Yeang moved on to the International College Penang, where he studied engineering in the school's American degree program, a curriculum designed for students looking to transfer to a university in the United States. He enrolled at OSU in 2014.

The second interview was conducted with Andrea Jara, also a doctoral student from Colombia. Born and raised in Bogotá, Jara remained in the capital city for her undergraduate work, exploring an interest in marine biology. From there, she pursued a master's degree in Ensenada, Mexico, where she researched fisheries that had been infiltrated by jumbo squid. Once completed, she returned to Colombia for more than three years before making to the move to OSU, with her husband, in 2013. A Ph.D. student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Jara is investigating the assessment of data-poor fisheries located on the coasts of both Oregon and Colombia.

Interview three was conducted with Chidi Okonkwo, a master's degree candidate in Public Health. Okonkwo was both born and grew up in Lagos, formerly the capital of Nigeria. The youngest of nine children, Okonkwo's mother died when he was two and his father has since passed away as well. At the age of seventeen, following the completion of his high school education, Okonkwo moved to Washington, D.C., where he studied Biology at American University. Following his graduation in 2012, Okonkwo moved across the country to OSU, initially enrolling as a Pharmacy student. Over time he opted to shift his focus to Public Health, with the ultimate goal of becoming a medical doctor.