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Young Alumni Letter to Admitted Students

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Our Student Leaders Welcome YOU!

Dear Newly Admitted Student,

I want to start this off first and foremost by saying that it’s nice to meet you! My name is Gillyn Maung, and I’m a recent alum of Stanford's graduating class of 2020 that spent all four years connected to the Asian American community and the A3C. Congratulations on your admission!

In the midst of the current COVID crisis, I hope you’re doing well, staying healthy, finding joy and comfort in as much as you possibly can. As a senior on my way out of university with the rest of my future left to figure out and plan, I understand the confusion and worry you must feel as you make your college decision. Though not exactly in the same context, I was once in your shoes. I hope that, by sharing some of my experiences and advice, I can help provide you with some answers, some guidance, and most importantly, support and reassurance that the future will be okay regardless of the decision you make.

As you consider which college you’d like to attend, I implore you to look into the support systems available for you - taking into consideration your identities, your experiences, your needs and interests. In your undergraduate career, there will undoubtedly be times when you are lost, uncertain, confused - whether that be about your academic path, your career trajectory, your social life, love life, etc. Regardless of the college you choose, there will be times when you will need support, distraction, motivation, positivity - you’re not expected to overcome those challenges on your own, and you don’t have to. Sometimes support doesn’t necessarily need to be opening up to others about what’s going on, sometimes it can be just having people, a space, an activity - something to uplift you and ease you through the rough patches of life. So look into which college(s) have spaces that can hold you through difficult times.

At Stanford, I found these spaces aplenty. If you were to ask other Stanford students what the best part of Stanford is, many of them would say that it’s the people that they’ve come across in their time here - I’m no different. I am a first generation Pilipinx lesbian, so having friends, mentors and faculty members who could understand my identities, experiences and struggles as well as validate them and offer me support made a world of difference. Programs such as the Leland Scholars Program for first-generation and/or low-income (FLI) students became the first sense of community and family I found at Stanford. I found refuge, mentorship and inspiration in the directors at the Asian American Activities Center (one of the many community centers we have on campus) who have guided me through a change in career trajectory and bolstered me through many of my personal problems. Ethnic student groups such as the Pilipinx American Student Union and dance groups such as Common Origins, Kayumanggi Dance Troupe, and Stanford XTRM brought me joy every meeting or practice when I was struggling to smile or laugh. The people that I’ve met, friendships I’ve forged, and communities that have accepted and supported me through all stages of success and struggle are second to none.

Not only do I advise you to seek out sources of positive support, but I also advise you to approach your future with an open mind and be open to change or to being wrong. As we’ve seen with the global health crisis, we can never really predict how the future will unfold, and you may find yourself on a different path than you initially began on. Like many, I came into Stanford as a pre-med. I was sure I’d become a physician and work specifically with marginalized communities, so I jumped right into the pre-med requirements. I knew I had other interests in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity (CSRE), Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies (FEMGEN/FGSS) and Psychology, but rather than taking the time to explore these fields in the first two years of my undergraduate experience, I committed myself to the Human Biology (HumBio) major. In the end, I changed career trajectory and wished I had taken more time to explore other possible majors. Please give yourself the time to explore your interests before committing to a major or career trajectory. I’m still satisfied with my HumBio major, but I wish I hadn’t been so resistant to changing trajectories that I deprived myself of the freedom to explore. With the help of advisors, upperclassmen and mentors, I was able to come to terms with things and make decisions that were best for me. So I hope that you allow yourself to both make your own choices and be open to being wrong sometimes.

Lastly, throughout it all, I hope you remain kind and gentle with yourself.  You are permitted to make mistakes, and to learn from them. It is entirely okay to not be okay, and to need support and help from others. Regardless of the college you choose, please keep in mind that the college you attend does not define you. However, I will say that, as cheesy as it sounds, there truly is no other experience like that of choosing and attending Stanford. While it’s not perfect, the opportunities, resources, support and people here at Stanford are like no other. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at! I wish you the best of luck in your decision.


Gillyn Maung '20