Q&A with Clarisse Chia about her experience as an international student at the University of Iowa

Photo of Clarisse Chia

Hometown:  George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Field of study:  actuarial science major, mathematics major, computer science minor

Campus leadership and involvement:  Board member on the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB), member of the ISAB Student Life and Housing subcommittee, member of the Malaysian Student Society marketing committee, mentor for Global@Iowa, member of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Club, volunteer for the Biology Greenhouse, member of The ImmUN!TY Campaign, International Chair for the Midwest Actuarial Science student conference

Campus employment:  Life in Iowa assistant for International Students & Scholars, International Programs; undergraduate research assistant in the UI Department of Mathematics

How did you decide to attend the University of Iowa?

Funny story – I wasn’t able to visit any of the universities I applied to, so after receiving college acceptance letters, I put each of the names of the colleges on a piece of paper and drew lots three different times—like drawing names from a hat. All three times, the University of Iowa was selected, so this is how I decided to attend the University of Iowa. It was meant to be!

Are you happy it ended up the way it did?

Yeah, I’m really happy it ended up the way it did! I think a huge reason why I’m happy with the way it turned out can be attributed to the people that I’ve met here and the relationships that I’ve built. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else! I entered Iowa thinking that I wanted to study actuarial science, but I realized that I really wanted to also explore the fields of computer science and mathematics. I’ve been able to expand my studies by adding a second major, as well as a minor. I have found my professors to be very accessible. There are many opportunities to get involved on campus, and I love the small, tight-knit community of Iowa City.

Do you have a favorite place to study on campus?

I study in the Hardin Library and the Sciences Library a lot. They’re quiet and I can usually find a space to study.

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?

Last year, I reached out to a mathematics professor regarding my interest in research. As a result, I’m now an undergraduate research assistant in the Department of Mathematics, where I am using my programming skills to help professors with their research on the effects of multiple myeloma on renal function.

What is one of your favorite experiences at the University of Iowa?

Being a part of the international community on campus, the Ultimate Frisbee team, and the Biology Greenhouse – a greenhouse on top of the biology building where I volunteer. As a volunteer, I take care of the succulents by re-potting and watering them. I also do plant propagation with the succulents.

Have you had a chance to explore the United States?

I have made numerous road trips with my friends, family, and Ultimate Frisbee teammates on the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team all over the United States. I have been to a little over 20 states so far and hope to be able to visit all of them one day!

Do you have any words of advice for future international students at the University of Iowa?

My advice for future international students would be to get involved in the various student organizations in which they’re interested, to engage with their professors beyond the required classroom environment, and to take advantage of Iowa’s geographical location by taking road trips to nearby (and not-so-nearby) cities!

Learn more about Clarisse here:

Connecting Iowa With the World and the World With Iowa

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