Malaysian Grad Makes Home in States as Technology Whiz

Malaysian Grad Makes Home in States as Technology Whiz

By Janlyn Thaxton, HSU Media Relations Coordinator

 

 

 

As Alexis Yueh Xuan Chuah picks up a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Hardin-Simmons University, she not only has the distinction of magna cum laude, but has also managed to secure her first full-time job. Kevin Schulle, manager of desk top computing and educational technologies in the HSU technologies office, says he was quick to snap her up for a full-time opening. Alexis quickly made a name for herself with Schulle after he chose her to fill a 15-hour per week work study position that required keeping printers and other machines in a computer lab running smoothly for lab students during the evening hours. Schulle says he was first impressed with her command of English and her spirit of tenacity. “Within two weeks of arriving here in the U.S. from Malaysia Alexis came to my office for a job interview for the work study position. She was one of 20 candidates for the job,” he remembers. {{more}} Schulle says after doing so well in the computer lab for a couple of years, “One of our full-time Help Desk technicians left us so we were shorthanded. I asked Alexis to come give us a hand, and to my surprise, she jumped right in and began answering phone calls to the Help Desk and going way beyond what I had expected for her to do.” Alexis says her arrival in the U.S. was mixture of excitement and severe homesickness. “The day I left, my father said, ‘It will be hard, but you’ll just have to hang in there.’ At first, I was really excited and didn’t think too much about it. After all, it was my first time flying solo. But the 28-hour flight really dampened my spirit,” recalls Alexis. “Once the excitement wore off, reality set in. Realizing I couldn’t go home any time I wanted made me very homesick. The first few days were really hard on me.” Despite those feelings, Alexis pushed forward, delving into New Student Orientation with so much gusto that she says, “There was no time to feel homesick anymore!” Alexis says she has especially felt blessed by the southern hospitality she experienced upon her arrival. She is quick to point to her church family at View Baptist Church for their willingness to open their homes and arms to her. “They helped me tremendously over the last four years. The people at church adopted Amanda Stark, my freshman roommate, and me from the first day we stepped into the church.” In her adjustment to the U.S., Alexis says, “Food was one of the hardest things for me to adapt to. The things I missed the most were fresh seafood and vegetables. Most of the ingredients for my favorite dishes were not available, so I had to change my eating habits.” One of her favorite memories was the first time one of her friends offered her biscuits and gravy. “I was really confused. In Malaysia, biscuits are cookies and both terms are used interchangeably. Imagine how I felt when someone asked if I wanted gravy on cookies!” Regarding her adjustment to the States, she says the funniest thing someone asked me was if we lived in trees in Malaysia. “Ever since then, it’s become a joke for the people in technology services. When they tease about living in a tree, I joke back telling them, ‘No, I lived in a cave. There’s better Wi-Fi signal because it bounces off the walls.” Alexis says her experience at HSU has been a wonderful learning process. “I especially love the small class sizes and how engaged the professors are with the students. I also had the opportunity to go to Salzburg, Austria, for a semester. If it wasn’t for the study abroad program at HSU, I probably would never have had the chance to experience studying and travelling in Europe. HSU opened a world of opportunities for me and helped me grow both spiritually and intellectually.” Alexis is not the first member of her family to come to HSU. Her cousin, Kylie Chye, a 2011 political science major and leadership minor, was one of seven students asked to stand and be recognized for earning a 4.0 grade point average during her winter commencement ceremony. Kylie made a name for herself as well, working for the student newspaper, The Brand, and for her involvement in the Model United Nations program in Washington D.C. She also served as a tutor in the HSU Writing Center and worked tirelessly with international students new to HSU. Alexis points to one of HSU’s staff members as a source of inspiration for her. She says Terry Minami, administrative assistant to the dean of University Libraries and an adviser to international students, “always told us to be prepared for everything because you never know when an opportunity will arise! So just do your best and God will do the rest.” Alexis feels that was pretty good advice, especially now that she has a full-time job in the Technology Service Office at HSU. Alexis walks the stage in the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony. She has also been selected as a candidate for Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.