Most students apply to Fletcher for the semester they intend to start their studies. For some, more time elapses between the application and enrollment. But few have quite as long a relationship with Fletcher’s Admissions Office as Ho-Ming. Here’s her story:
Hello. I’m Ho-Ming, a first-year MALD candidate. My Fields of Study will likely be Public International Law and Human Security. I have the pleasure of volunteering as a student interviewer and, at Jessica’s suggestion, am taking this opportunity to share a little bit about the long route that brought me to Fletcher.
Growing up in East and Southeast Asia, I had always been interested in the intersection between public sector service delivery and governance. I came to the U.S. for undergraduate studies and majored in Chinese Politics. Though interested in international development, I felt I should complete some necessary schooling first and explore career trajectories after. After graduating, I spent a year researching China, both there and in the U.S., and applied to PhD programs in political science. While I waited for decisions, though, I had realized that it made little sense to return to grad school in the U.S., when I could be working in the places and on the issues I wanted to study. I deferred indefinitely with no idea what I wanted to do, or what a development career would actually mean. After an additional year of indecision, I decided that I would apply to Fletcher, complete my professional degree, and then (I thought) doors would open up and life would solve the mystery of what to do, and how to do it.
Then I learned I was denied admission to Fletcher. Since I was in the area, I stopped by the Admissions Office to chat with Jessica and to get feedback on my application. Our conversation was key in encouraging me to take crucial steps to figure out my interests, so that I could shape my career and life to answer the questions so integral to the Fletcher community: What is my part in the world, and how can I make it, and the world, better?
Even while waiting for my admission decision, I was applying for opportunities to gain work experience in international development, and an INGO in Vietnam offered me a position. I reapplied to Fletcher after a year working in Vietnam, during which I met mentors, colleagues, and friends who continue to be some of the most thought-provoking and thoughtful people I know. I also met Fletcher alumni and a former professor, all of whom reflected a caliber of idealism and pragmatism that continue to inspire me. I finally received notification in winter 2008 that I had been admitted, but, wanting to follow through on what I had learned so far, deferred my enrollment for a year to continue working.
After all this time, I finally matriculated this fall. I would not trade for anything the three years between my first application and starting classes. Working in the field has been invaluable, and it helps me contextualize my courses and my fellow students’ experiences in a way that I couldn’t have, had I not taken the time to venture off into — what had seemed at the time to be — the unknown. Not unrelated, I met my three roommates while we were all working in Vietnam. That they all reflect the intelligence and thoughtfulness widespread at Fletcher goes without saying. That they happen to be some of my favorite people in this world is an added bonus.
Wherever you are in your application process, I know that all the paperwork can be daunting and frustrating. And being asked repeatedly what you have done and what you want to do for the rest of your life just adds to that frustration. But, truthfully, that is one of the things I have come to appreciate most: If you choose Fletcher, you’ll find a place that supports thoughtful formulation of answers to these questions. Better yet, it is a place that expects you to keep asking them.