As a high school student in Cambodia, Hao Taing envisioned going to the United States for college. His journey has taken several twists and turns, but Taing is excited and optimistic about continuing to pursue his goals even as Minnesota universities face uncertainty going into the fall.
Taing had relatives in Minnesota and initially thought about going the University of Minnesota. He narrowly missed qualifying for the Carlson School of Management based on his international student test score. Taing's cousin had attended Normandale prior to transferring to the University Minnesota and recommended it as a good college to get a quality education.
"I did not understand the concept of a two-year college, but ever since I made the decision to attend Normandale things keep getting better and better for me" said Taing. "I had a great experience at Normandale, and I feel prepared in so many ways for the next step of my education."
Taing was unsure of that next step initially. After narrowly missing out on the Carlson School of Management, he did not know if he would be accepted when he applied after graduating from Normandale. He excelled in the classroom and participated in numerous clubs and campus activities.
In his first year, he was part of Student Senate and volunteered for the Normandale Program Board, which plans student-run campus events. The next year he became the President of the Program Board, was accepted into the Phi Theta Kappa and Kappa Beta Delta honor societies, and started the Asian Student Association.
"I knew to be successful at college in a new country that I had to step up and take the opportunities to make new friends and gain new skills," said Taing. "Once I started doing Student Life activities, more opportunities came to me. I am grateful to be able to study abroad, and I wanted to take advantage of this great opportunity to the best of my ability."
Even while exceling in the classroom and as a leader in the Student Life community, Taing still had some doubts about his next step. He made it a goal to get into the Carlson School of Management, but he was not sure he could accomplish that goal. As Taing progressed at Normandale he gained confidence. The last piece of the puzzle fell into place when he met Normandale Director of Marketing Jennifer Lefler.
"Jennifer (Lefler) has been a great supporter for me," Taing. "I met with her several times to craft my resume as I prepared to transfer, and she gave me a lot of tips for applying and preparing to go the University of Minnesota. We worked on my resume together and I applied the Carlson School of Management and I got accepted. When I worked with her, it did not feel like a staff member was helping me it felt like a supportive friend helping another friend."
Taing mentions that the support he has received from faculty and staff throughout his time at Normandale has been amazing. Despite the fact that he over 8,000 miles away from the Normandale campus on day of the virtual Commencement, the ceremony was very meaningful to him.
"The ceremony started at 6 a.m. in Cambodia, and I grabbed my laptop to watch it with my parents," said Taing. "My mom was taking pictures and was proud of my accomplishments. Having the virtual Commencement was a blessing in disguise, because I got to share a beautiful moment with my family as I celebrated my graduating from Normandale."
Taing has recently shifted his focus to pursue an Operations and Supply Chain Management degree through the College of Business at the University of St. Thomas. He wants to run his own logistics and distribution company, and eventually be an investor and venture capitalist. His time at Normandale has provided great memories, and helped clarify his goals for the future. "
Normandale gave me such a warm welcome and it always felt like home," said Taing. "The faculty and staff were always easy to talk to and I felt fully supported as an international student both inside and outside of the classroom."