Born in the Philippines and raised in the United Arab Emirates, Jene Viray is an international student at Cypress College who is graduating with her associate of arts degree in communication studies. She hopes to transfer to Cal State Long Beach in fall 2020, and until then, will continue working in the college’s International Students Program to gain practical work experience.
In addition to working part-time in the International Students Program office, Jene was cast and has performed in the college’s dance productions, and was a member of the Cypress College Forensics Team. She aspires to earn a master’s degree in speech language pathology and become a certified speech therapist with the goal of helping children improve their speech and ability to communicate.
“I find joy in helping others in a way that can encourage their success and well-being,” she said. “Knowing that my actions and words have the power to impact other peoples’ lives positively is rewarding in itself.”
Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
I am an international student born in the Philippines and raised in United Arab Emirates. Living away from my family has been a challenge. Fortunately, through Cypress College, I was able to meet other students who have kept me company and have been so supportive of me. I am truly grateful for each one of them.
Why did you choose Cypress College?
I chose Cypress College for its reputable faculty members and student services. There are various programs and services on campus that have been so helpful to my success, from the tutoring services at the Learning Resource Center, to free flu vax at the Health Center. The availability of these services has definitely affected my academics and overall well-being. Nonetheless, the faculty and staff are very welcoming and professional. My professors have all motivated and inspired me to be where I am today.
What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?
I have spent the majority of my time here as a part-time student at the International Students Program office. It has allowed me to interact with prospective and new international students while also enhancing my professional skills. Besides work, I personally enjoy dancing, and I had the pleasure to be casted for the spring 2019 dance concert as a student volunteer. Last but not least, I was part of the Forensics Team and had the opportunity to compete and represent Cypress Chargers at the Phi Rho Pi National Tournament, and it was quite a memorable experience. Meeting other forensics competitors only reaffirmed my passion for the communications field.
What are you most passionate about? Why?
During my past volunteer experience with various paralympic organizations such as the Boccia International Sports Federation and the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation, I have met such inspirational athletes who all embodied sheer determination and commitment. Throughout these experiences I realized the importance of communication in all aspects of life. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to work in the communicative disorders branch of communications. I find joy in helping others in a way that can encourage their success and well-being. Knowing that my actions and words have the power to impact other people’s lives positively is rewarding in itself. Thus, my ultimate goal of being a certified speech therapist will definitely allow me to work in a field that I am most passionate about.
Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?
There are various faculty members who have helped and guided me throughout my studies at Cypress College. The staff at the ISP office — Yongmi Han, Gina Marrocco, and Deepa Tharani (our academic counselor) — have all spent time to ensure that I am following the right path to completing my degree. I must also say that all of my past professors have always managed to ignite my curiosity and thirst for knowledge. There are far too many names to mention, but I really am grateful for each of my professors. I also want to thank Professor Jennifer Page, my forensics coach, for always believing in me. Finally, I also appreciate all of the faculty and staff in the Language Arts Division who all have influenced my success.
What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
Upon graduation I intend to do optional practical training for a year before transferring to Cal State Long Beach for my bachelor’s degree.
What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
Once I complete my bachelor’s degree, I want to pursue my master’s degree in speech language pathology and ultimately become a certified speech therapist. I aspire to work with children and help improve their speech and ability to communicate. I believe that speech therapy is vital during childhood because it is at its most effective stage.
What are you most proud of?
One thing I am most proud of is my experience living abroad. As an international student, I have learned the importance of the people I surround myself with. Living and adjusting to a whole different culture has also taught me patience and perseverance. All these experiences have indeed made me proud because they have led to my personal growth.
What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
You are not alone. One thing I want current and future students to realize is that we all take this journey together so no one is ever on their own. Whatever it may be and no matter how silly it may seem, they should not be afraid to ask for help. At the end of the day, their peers, the faculty, and staff are all rooting for their success.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?