March 29, 2024

A Global Perspective Shapes Journey of Self-Discovery for CHaSS Student

USU student Mayu Mecham stands on a bridge above the River Seine at night
USU student Mayu Mecham in Paris

By Maren Aller '00, Senior Advancement Writer

Since beginning her academic journey at Utah State University, Mayu Mecham has navigated the higher education landscape, driven by an unyielding dedication to allowing her passions to mold her journey of self-discovery. Using a mosaic of experiences from throughout her life, Mayu’s enduring fascination lies in the exploration of different lands, the comprehension of diverse cultures, and the engagement with systems extending beyond local confines.

A student within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mayu is pursuing a dual major in international studies and sociology, complemented by minors in French and anticipatory intelligence. This deliberate academic trajectory reflects her resolute decision to immerse herself in the complex dance of nations, policies, and histories. Mayu sees her education not just as a means of acquiring knowledge, but as an intentional effort to forge a connection with the global tapestry of human experiences.

“It’s not just about visiting new places,” Mayu said. “It’s about getting to see how systems interact with each other and to see the effects of globalization in different settings. I enjoy studying international dynamics where multiple components come together to build this greater system that defines our contemporary human experience.”

Mayu, who was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, moved to the United States when she was 14-years-old to attend high school. Navigating a challenging upbringing, Mayu’s high school years were marked by difficulties. Driven by a desire to change her circumstances, Mayu immersed herself in the world of academia, transforming into a dedicated student with a desire for learning. The conviction to attend college was always ingrained in her and served as a beacon of hope and transformation. However, Mayu realized that obtaining a college degree would be a challenge, in particular, paying for college.

With a two-and-a-half-year gap between high school and college, Mayu worked to save up money while she lived with family. Once she applied and was accepted to USU with the help of financial aid and scholarships, a big portion of Mayu’s concerns regarding the financial hurdles of earning a college degree were lifted.

“The impact of being awarded a scholarship is undeniable,” Mayu said. “Being on the receiving end and seeing the generosity of donors fills me with hope and inspires me to continue to work towards contributing to make the world a better place.”

As recipient of a CHaSS Experiential Learning Scholarship, Mayu realized her dream of studying abroad in France at the Institute of Political Studies of Rennes in spring 2023. The notion of studying abroad had always been a distant and seemingly unattainable aspiration for Mayu. However, the scholarship played a pivotal role in transforming this distant dream into a tangible reality.

Immersed in the academic experience of a prestigious foreign university, Mayu was both intellectually and culturally invigorated.

“Most of my classes were in French, adding an extra layer of complexity to an already difficult experience navigating a different national, cultural, and academic system,” Mayu said. “Being able to experience this was fascinating as it allowed me to observe the differences of how a university works different in a different country.”

Beyond the classroom, Mayu discovered a vibrant community among fellow international students. While adjusting to life abroad, Mayu said they formed a connection based on a shared journey that created an incredible support system.

“In this diverse group, each person brought their own amazing stories,” Mayu said. “Getting to share experiences with so many people who brought their own amazing personalities and backgrounds made our short time together very special. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had to create some beautiful memories.”

The experiences Mayu had in France, made possible through the generosity of donors supporting funds like the Experiential Learning Fund, are something she holds in deep gratitude. According to her, this transformative experience has not only broadened her perspective, but has also instilled the profound belief that change is not only possible, but achievable.

“Studying abroad is quite a unique way of getting to know yourself,” Mayu said. “It can have the power to prompt shifts in thinking and perspective. My own experiences highlighted the importance of approaching problem sets and community-building in a different way than we’re often used to. Study abroad gave me some of the tools needed for this and the opportunity to see how it can be done.”

The study abroad experience also had a positive impact on many of Mayu’s study abroad friends, individuals who had never ventured far from home.

“I have many friends who found the courage to believe in themselves through their study abroad experience,” Mayu said. “It’s a beautiful transformation, a testament to the power of experiences that expand horizons and build self-confidence.”

Of her on-campus experience at the main USU campus in Logan, Mayu said it has been incredible. The support and understanding extended by her professors have not only welcomed, but actively encouraged reaching out for assistance. The dynamic dissolved any apprehensions Mayu initially had about seeking help. The support she receives from her professors has empowered her to fully embrace the idea that asking for help is not only acceptable, but inherently valuable.

Mayu noted that whenever she reaches out to a professor, she feels they are genuinely invested in her success and are dedicated to guiding her toward the best possible outcomes.

“My professors’ support has become a catalyst, encouraging me to channel my focus into producing the highest quality of work that I can,” Mayu said. “I am so grateful for the knowledge that help is readily available when I need it.”

Living in Logan is yet another highlight of Mayu’s college journey. She expresses her appreciation for the exceptional setting of USU, highlighting its appeal to outdoor enthusiasts by portraying it as a haven nestled within minutes of the surrounding mountains.

Reflecting on the vibrant campus community, Mayu said the atmosphere at USU is truly amazing.

“There is something for every person, with a diverse range of student and athletic events that add to the liveliness of campus,” Mayu said.

As for herself, Mayu has always been aware of her place in the world. According to her, attending college and intentionally stepping out of her comfort zone have reshaped her perspective in a positive and enriching manner. 

“I have always wanted to cultivate the capability to see beyond my own experiences, to broaden my understanding,” Mayu said. “Building bridges between cultures requires the willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, embracing the discomfort that comes with the unfamiliar.”

Working toward her degrees, the skills to connect with people who are vastly different from herself have been key to Mayu’s enlightenment.

“While interacting with your familiar bubble may offer some enrichment, true transformation can only happen when you engage with and learn from individuals with diverse perspectives different than your own,” Mayu said.

Looking ahead to the future, Mayu’s exposure to different global experiences has prompted a reevaluation of her outlook on life, significantly impacting how she views classes and approaches her studies. As she considers the possibility of pursuing graduate school outside of the United States, one thing is clear – Mayu is committed to being an engaged and lifelong learner.

“Education and learning are not just a choice; they are an integral part of who I am,” Mayu said. “Studying at USU has been about more than just attaining an academic degree for me; it has been about exploring opportunities to grow and developing a sense of purpose that inspires me to keep working towards something meaningful.”

The Utah State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Experiential Learning Fund provides unparalleled opportunities for deserving students to chart a more certain future with the help of scholarships and fellowships. Create Your Aggie Impact by supporting student-focused areas at usu.edu/advancement/campaign/students.

Share

Related Stories

 

5 Questions for a CHaSS Grad

5 Questions for a CHaSS Grad highlights the awesome things our alumni go on to do. Meet Sam Reeder, a data analyst focused on opinion polling for political campaigns. Sam holds degrees in political science from Utah State University and teaches at the Col...