Meet the Counselors

By: PJay

The year is finally ending, and if you still haven’t stepped foot into our office, I highly encourage you to do so. The Career and Internship Services office is filled with many sweet and friendly peer educators and professional staff members. Among the professional staff there are five of my favorite career counselors. Each of them has positively impacted me, and I would like to spill the beans on how you can receive assistance from them as well. I would also like to mention that I am sorry if this post sounds bias; I am honestly giving my true opinions on how these counselors have benefitted me and students that I’ve seen using our services.

Whether you know or don’t know what you want to do in college, my best advice is to just come in our office to a schedule an appointment. Recently, I was able to sit and talk with each counselor and they are all so amazing and inspiring. Not only are they some of the most positive people that I’ve met, but they listen so well and I believe as a college student, that is just what we need sometimes. There may be little technical jobs that one counselor performs and the others don’t. However, each of these staff members can perform the same job in their own perspective and with their own specialties, which together, makes this office complete!

Meet the Counselors

The first person I would like to mention is Julie Westlund. Not only does she work hard as a director but she’s also a very professional individual. She is awesome at working with people who have disabilities and are a part of the older generation. The first counselor that I met with at the beginning of the year was her. Julie has helped me multiple times with figuring out which jobs are suitable for my interests and skills through taking all three assessments that C&IS offers. She helped me learn a lot about myself, and also helped me believe in myself that I can accomplish my goals.

Secondly, Janet Pribyl is one of the most energetic people in the office. She’s a bundle of fun to be around. She’s a busy person with class presentations all the time. But when she gets the time to settle down with students, she finds herself working with everyone from different backgrounds, ages, and stories. If you are someone who is a couple of credits shy from graduating, or is just returning back to school, Janet would be your person! Her positivity has driven me to want to schedule more appointments with her to open my mind to all my different possibilities in life.

Sherrill Yeaton is such a sweet counselor. She works closely with the Multicultural Center at UMD. So if you’re a person of color like me, I highly suggest you speak with Sherrill. I have met with her numerous times. Every time we meet, I just end up wanting to go back again and again. She’s so great at helping me find the resources I need to be where I want to be. She’s always patiently waiting for me to finish blabbering, then shooting me with awesome ideas for me to learn more about my career.

Another fun person that I always get carried away talking to and laughing with is Ellen Hatfield. She does amazing work with managing all of our office’s social media. If you’re confused as to what you want to do, and you’re an incoming freshman or beginning college, I highly suggest sitting down with Ellen. She’s very down to earth. I remembered being quite lost at my first job fair. As soon as I saw Ellen there, she helped guide me to network. I not only gained connections with employers, but also with students at the U of M Twin Cities in such an easy and fun way. Thanks to Ellen, I can’t wait until my next job fair!

Lastly, I would like to mention Sue Holm. She’s so kind and has such a welcoming smile. Speaking with Sue has made me want to use her as one of my main resources as I get closer to graduating. She is the match for you if you’re looking to pursue graduate or professional school. I see so many students who are looking to attend medical school use Sue as guidance. She honestly knows what she’s doing and I’m excited to bond with her more.

I hope after reading a little bit about each counselor you will have an idea of who to meet with. Although they tend to work with more students under a certain category, do not feel like you are just obligated to see one career counselor. Their different personalities might actually determine who you want to go to since they all are open minded people. They won’t judge you no matter where you come from. They are just there to listen and help you reach your goals and succeed. By working at the front desk, I’ve realized many UMD student faces are becoming more familiar because they’ve been coming back to our office. It makes me feel happy that not only do I feel these awesome career counselors are doing their job right, but others demonstrate it as well!

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Photo source: Unsplash | Olu Eletu

Seeking the Role Models

By: PJay

The semester is finally ending and although it might seem late, I’m proud to say that I think I’ve finally figured out how the college life works for me! This year was one of the most terrifying and adventurous times of my life. I struggled so deep to where I didn’t think I was going to be able to bring myself up. I was losing motivation, but slowly, I managed to change my actions. I remembered I had one task here to complete: to succeed and bring a brighter future to my family and myself. Being the extrovert that I am, I opened my eyes and allowed others to inspire me in ways they might not even know. Such as just simply remembering my name. There are so many leaders at UMD I could mention, and here are just a few of the people who I would love to thank and talk about, and they might just be able to help you as much as they have helped me.

Back in the summer of 2013, I visited UMD as a high schooler with a program called Upward Bound. From that visit, the only face I could remember was Jordon Moses. He was honest to mention both good and bad qualities about college which pulled me to consider UMD. At the time, he was still an undergrad and a student ambassador. Thankfully, he is now a passionate mentor and Coordinator of African American Student Programs in the Multicultural Center. By sharing his background as a colored student who went to multiple schools and ended up at a privileged white high school, he learned that the question for him was not “are you going to college?” but “where are you going to college?” Eventually he ended up at UMD, and shared that through college, he become more patient, intelligent, and “witty”. He thrived to make the school better, and positively influenced people who wanted to transfer out of UMD, to stay. When I asked to interview him, for him to just know my name made me feel awesome because to me, he’s a superstar!


In addition, David “Victory” Lee, is a senior at UMD who I’ve found to be wiser than his years. In high school, David was not very involved with extracurricular activities (truly hard to believe now because he’s one of the most outgoing Hmong upperclassmen). He made a decision to attend a university rather than a community college because it allowed him to expand out of his comfort level. He learned to become a leader and held many statuses in different clubs. For me to come into college as an afraid and a little freshmen, David’s sense of humor positively influenced me to join the club Asian/Pacific American Association (APAA) where he holds the position as president. With his impact, APAA was where I met and made most of my friends. There was never a time when he let me or others feel excluded. Secretly, I look up to him as an older brother. He constantly teaches me to go outside of my comfort level because he knows it’ll open many doors. To have a supporter like David has encouraged me to try new opportunities.

Another amazing person I’d like to recognize is my resident assistant (RA), Kau Guannu. In 2001, Kau came to America from Liberia at the age of five. Similar to Jordon, she was also expected to attend college. She is now a junior, and despite her hectic schedule, whenever I’m confused with college, she’ll try her best to reach my needs. Whether that’s on a weekend or at 10:00PM on a school night. Most of the events I’ve attended such as Stress Less Week and Grocery Bingo were through her. With her major in Psychology, she has learned how to pay close attention and related phenomenons studied in her courses to read people’s body language. It has motivated me to want to push through my generals before my major will start to make sense. In addition, I’ve realized that we may come from different parts of the world but we’re connected through the value of wanting to take care of our family in the future. Her motivation to succeed in college to help her mother has also helped me to rethink every time I feel like quitting to consider my family.

Lastly, I would like to introduce the beautiful Coordinator of Asian/Pacific American Student Programs, Kaohlee Vue. Being the oldest daughter and a first generation child, she attended the University of MN Twin Cities and majored in Child Psychology. In many Hmong families, most daughters are strictly ordered to not leave the household unless if they are married. Therefore, a lot of Hmong elders criticized Kaohlee’s parents for allowing her to study abroad in Laos, and to travel to California and New York to work for AmeriCorps. But, she believed she was doing the right thing and her parents valued her education. Rarely do we see in the Hmong community a young lady be able to further her education. She informed me to make a lot of connections outside of my classes because the experiences made from the college clubs shaped her to become the person she is today. Witnessing the possibilities that Kaohlee has achieved, inspired me to want to explore college and find myself.

It’s extremely honoring and fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful role models. If you seek out guidance, it will come because there are many wonderful people who can and will help you out. A divine factor about the people that I’ve mentioned above is that they’re all passionate to make a change. Like one of my family member mentioned to me, “when you hang out with winners, you’ll feel like a winner too,” and these are just the very few people who are winners in my life. So whether you are already a student here or want to attend UMD, I encourage you to seek out my role models. I guarantee, you’ll just feel better coming to school and being surrounded by people who love encouraging you.

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Photo source: Unsplash | Greg Rakozy

Decisions, Decisions (Choosing My Major)

By: PJay

Choosing a major is probably one of the toughest decisions to make in college. There are so many great subjects to learn about, but sadly, we just can’t study them all. It’s so unfortunate that we are so limited on the time given to us to complete our four year degree. I honestly feel lost in college very often because I always want to study everything. I can be entertained easily, and I’m always so intrigued by every new thing that pops into my life.

Since I realized that I have such little self control, I’ve developed some ways to help me make my decisions less complicated. Recently I decided to switch my major from biology to cell and molecular biology. You might think:


And honestly, you aren’t the only one to think that (I thought the same as well). But after a little bit of research on the UMD catalog page, I decided to compare the coursework of the two majors together. I learned that cell biology had a stricter outline of required courses, whereas biology was more open to the upper division course possibilities. For some people, they might enjoy that kind of flexibility more.

In addition, I also searched for what graduates do with the two different majors (information can be found on the Graduate Follow-up Report). Apparently, twice as many people graduated with a biology degree compared to a cell and molecular biology degree. However, the rate of students heading onto graduate school were about the same. Therefore, I learned that my conclusion to choose one major over the other lied upon my interest in the upper division courses, and with what I wanted to do after graduation, which is to hopefully to enter medical school.

Honestly, no major is necessarily “better” than another. At the end, what matters the most is if you are truly enjoying what you are studying. If it makes you happy, then stick with it. Everything is more meaningful in life when you have the motivation. Once you accomplish what you have been dedicating your time to, it will be worth the change in your life!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Emerging Majority (My Path)

By: PJay

Remember the first time you came into college? Wasn’t it scary because you didn’t know where anything was, but yet, you were able to ask someone for help? And do you recall when you missed your family, but you got over it since you knew you were going to see them in a couple of days? Now imagine wanting to see your family but you know it wouldn’t be possible because they are probably lost in the jungle that is half way across the world. Or picture needing to know how to do something or get somewhere but not being able to get that point across to anyone due to a language barrier. So many of us overlook other’s shoes. Especially our immigrant parents.

If you are a minority, then there must be many reasons to why you have decided to continue on with your educational path. We may all come from different cultures, and yet, all of us know the importance of grabbing a hold of the opportunities that our parents weren’t allowed to have. Our parents have left their families, friends, and homeland so that we would not suffer from the pain that they had to deal with. So if we were to throw away all of our dreams and goals, it would be the same as throwing away their dreams as well.

What is your path?

There are times when I have questioned myself, “why am I here?” (in college) due to frustration from my back to back exams I haven’t studied for, or the eight pages of math homework I haven’t finished. Whatever it is, it can get to me pretty hard, but I know I cannot quit and that I am not alone. Many people who grew up with English being their second language know what it is like feeling there is twice the pressure to work hard in school. Mainly because of our parents.

I am Hmong, and I come from a family of immigrants. Growing up, no one in my family went to college. I was the first to leave my family and explore a whole new world my parents never got to seek. Sometimes, being the first generation to go to college can be prideful, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities. Mostly, I am constantly nagged to be the role model for my younger sibling, and cousins. But, I know they just want me to be the best that I can be, which really isn’t much to ask for.

When the puzzle pieces are put together, we must understand that our parents love us very much to get us to where we are. They are the number one people who have dealt with so many people looking down on them. They constantly nag us to try hard in life, not to be annoying but to push us to become better individuals because they really do care. They want us to stand out and change the minds of those who have looked passed us. We should be proud of our beautiful cultures and keep in mind that we must succeed in school to prove how strong and powerful we are.

With that said, I have some words of wisdom. Whenever you feel like quitting, tell yourself that if you can make it through this then you can make it through anything. Remember that nothing is easy in life. We are no longer the minority, because we are the emerging majority. This is my reason why I have chosen this path, what is yours?

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Photo Source: Unsplash|Michael Hull

Stress Less During Finals

By: PJay

At this point in the semester, most people have probably started their mental breakdowns and sleepless nights already due to finals. Finals are definitely the Devil’s best friend. But while everyone is busy trying to find ways to defeat these crazy exams, I just wanted to drop by and say, you are not the only one stressing over these assessments. As important as these tests are to each and everyone of us, it’s truly important for us to remember what our limits are as humans.

Thinking that the best way to prepare for finals is to drown yourself in course material for days or weeks is really not. Studies have shown that a person can only take up to 40 to 90 minutes of concentrated studying with up to 10 minute breaks (source). Remember that you can not expect to relearn a whole semester worth of materials in the limited couple of weeks before these exams. So don’t beat yourself over if you’re struggling with trying to understand anything. You should try to squeeze in some time for peace.

Luckily, the UMD’s “Stress-less Week in the Library” maybe a possibility for those of you who really need a break before the most hectic week of the semester. This event consists of a week long of activities from December 7th through the 11th with many different types of fun and exciting bundles of joy! From getting free coffee with our one and only Champ, free chair massages to releasing your stress with petting adorable pets and so much more! To find out more information, check out the link:

I’m definitely excited to be attending my first “Stress-Less” week and am truly grateful for the opportunity. I highly encourage you all to attend at least one of these events. Nothing sounds better than receiving free food, drinks, or activities. Remember that we should not be overloading ourselves with intense studying. Work hard, but don’t forget to love and take care of yourself. Good luck everyone.

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Prioritizing Isn’t Always Easy

By: PJay

Do you ever find yourself questioning, why there are so many things to do in a day, but you never seem to be able to finish them all? Sometimes when that happens to me, I tend to believe that it’s due to my lack of ability to be productive. But when I really think about it, I realize that I am actually just a very busy person. The answer is not being unproductive, it is time. There is just simply not enough hours in a day for one to accomplish all the task they wish to achieve.

Infinity time. Digital generated

Even though the first semester of my freshman year is already coming to an end, I am still struggling with how to balance out school, clubs, and work in my life. Sometimes there are just so many demands to finish in a day. Many times, I wished time could just go slow down or stop. But let’s face reality. You can’t stop time, therefore, you have to learn how to prioritize.

You may ask, “How do I decide on what to prioritize first?” The answer is simple, learn how to concentrate on one goal first before moving on to another one. The best thing to do is accomplish the goal you will thank yourself for tomorrow when you wake up. Sometimes you will regret not doing something, but take it as a lesson learn and figure out how you will do things differently next time.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I am no expert because I am still grieving over missing last week’s Pre-med club guest speaker meeting due to the infinite stack of homework I had. However, I have developed the mindset to understand that there will always be other opportunities granted to me if I seek for it.

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Meet PJay

PJay F15 Web Version

Hello there!

My name is PJay. I am a freshmen here at UMD. Currently, I am majoring in Biology with a possible minor in Deaf Studies. I just got hired at the UMD Career & Internship Services this fall, and I’m so excited to be working here with a wonderful team of amazing staff members and fellow peers! My favorite place in Duluth would have to be Chester Park. I love the feeling of being outdoors and exploring nature. When I have the time, I enjoy traveling very much! I love seeing new places and meeting new people.

The best career advice that I’ve received from someone that I hold dearly to my heart is, “You can’t always go all the way through at first, but you have to try before you can quit.” This quote definitely helped me to get pass my first couple weeks of college because I did horribly on my first Chemistry exam. I felt miserable and just wanted to switch my major since I needed that class for my major and career. I tried convincing myself that there were other career options for me, but I was still very unhappy. After I spoke to someone and when they gave me that advice, I realized that there were three more exams before the semester was going to end. I still had time to try harder, study, and focus more on the work for the class and eventually I ended up doing so much better on my second exam.

My best piece of career advice to give to someone is, there will always be people who will doubt that you can’t pursue a career. But, sometimes, people just put others down because they fear your success and potential. So don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible, because it’s up to you to work for it and to believe in yourself that you can do it!