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Jarlene Choy

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’10 International Politics | Foundations Manager, Giffords | San Francisco, CA
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Jarlene Choy

Liberal Arts Major: International Politics

Current Location: San Francisco, CA

What enrichment activities did you participate in as a student?

I was a teaching assistant for SOC 119 Race Relations. I was also a research assistant in a psychology lab focusing on racial and gender bias. I interned at the U.S. State Department and U.S. Consulate Guangzhou in China. Finally, I was a Japanese language tutor.

What was your first job after graduating from Penn State?

I served as an international education coordinator at a private high school in South China, where I advised Chinese students on applying to colleges abroad and created service-learning and extracurricular enrichment programs. Immediately after, I became a teaching Fellow with Teach For China (a Teach for America partner) in rural China for two years.

What was your favorite class?

I liked English with Dr. Robert Bleil, because he taught with empathy, sharp wit, and candidness.

How did your liberal arts education and skills prepare you for life after graduation?

It deepened my curiosity and openness to the perspectives of diverse disciplines and the ways they intersect on an issue, and helped me understand there is rarely just one side or solution to a problem. It strengthened my ability to consider and critically analyze the different viewpoints of an argument.

What networking advice would you share with current students?

Never be shy about reaching out to ask someone for coffee. They can always say no. Don't close the door on yourself before even trying. Have a clear purpose why you'd like to connect with the person and be genuine, curious, and prepared with thoughtful questions. There is always something to be learned from the stories of others. Be respectful of their time and always thank them in advance and afterwards.

What role have mentors played in your career progression?

They have provided much-needed advice during key transitions in my career, as well as support and encouragement during challenging times in my journey. They also have provided resources or introductions to others when they themselves didn't have the answer, helping me broaden my knowledge and connections. They have also helped me keep the momentum in my career by reminding me to set goals and holding me accountable.

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