For the almost 3,000 international students at the University of Oregon representation can be hard to centralize. That’s where Kevin Ma comes in. Ma has been the ASUO International Student Advocate since June 2013. A search is currently underway to find Ma’s replacement when he graduates at the end of this term.
Ma helps international student groups apply for funding, make special requests and navigates the ASUO landscape. A big part of his job is spreading information to different international student leaders and groups to reach those 2,946 international students. International students make up about twelve percent of the University of Oregon.
“I want to fill the gap between the domestic students and the international students,” Ma said. “I want to tell them that we do have a voice and power on campus.”
To represent all 2,946 international students, Ma relies on the help of interns. Many of who helped him to organize everything from this year’s international fee town hall to international student group conferences and outreach to international student leaders.
“I so appreciate that the ASUO gave me the opportunity and I also appreciate that I get support from the international student leaders,” Ma said. “I do have the personal responsibility to help the international students to get them out of trouble or help solve their problems.”
For Ma, interns are an important form of assistance but he also wants the experience to help them expand their campus opportunities. One of his goals is to help get them involved in more ASUO activity.
“I really want my interns to be involved in ASUO in the future,” Ma said. “ASUO does not have that many seats for international students.”
One of Ma’s former interns, Rujun Cao, is now ASUO Elections Board Public Relations Coordinator. @@name [email protected]@
Another of Ma’s goals during his ASUO tenure is to connect international student groups with companies and corporations. The focus on connecting international students with American companies is to help them get jobs after college. Ma is graduating this term and is currently looking for a job in America.
“I hope I can find a job but it’s very hard for international students to find jobs because many companies do not give sponsors,” Ma said. “We have to get sponsors for our visas to stay here.”
The International Student Advocate hiring committee has been designated with the responsibility of replacing Ma. The committee included ASUO Internal Vice President Azia Calderhead, ASUO Internal Affairs Director Kelsey Peddie and Ma. @@two names [email protected]@
Calderhead would like someone who can expand upon Ma’s advocacy for both the ASUO’s needs and student groups’ needs. Though she’ll miss the former leader, she is optimistic about the future.
“I’m going to miss him so much, he’s incredible and he knows everyone,” Calderhead said. “It’s going to be really hard without him but I think he’ll make a great transition for the next advocate. I think the new advocate will be well prepared.”