Mubai Huang took classes at MiraCosta College, participated in student government, and was an award-winning student employee – all while studying from her home in China.
Huang, who goes by the name Isabella, said that even though her home in a town near Shanghai was more than 6,600 miles away from the Oceanside campus, she still felt connected to her instructors, support staff and other students.
“I really enjoyed my time at MiraCosta,” said Isabella, who transferred to the University of California at San Diego in fall 2021. “I felt it was a really good step to understand American culture and to get ready for the intense university life.”
Isabella knew in high school that she wanted to study abroad, and her counselor recommended MiraCosta College as a way to start her higher education while she improved her English proficiency.
“I heard it’s a really good college,” she said. “The small classes help to contact the professors and get specific instruction.”
She started at MiraCosta in Fall 2019 – and then the pandemic hit in Spring 2020 and she returned home to China that summer. She finished out the rest of her education at MiraCosta online. With a 16-hour time difference, sometimes that meant making class presentations at 1 a.m.
When she felt depressed, Isabella contacted a counselor at the college, who gave her helpful advice and led to her volunteering in the mental health department. She served as a senator in MiraCosta’s student government. When she wrote papers for her classes, she had them reviewed by the college’s writing center to help correct her grammar and writing style as she becomes more fluent in English.
“Even though I was in my own country, I still had an opportunity to connect with people in the United States,” Isabella said. “I don’t really feel like I’m segregated.”
She also had a job as a student outreach leader in the international students office, which involved hosting weekly meetings with international students to address academic or social concerns, setting up campus tours, and managing the office’s social media. Her work led to an award as California’s outstanding student worker from the Western Association of Student Employment Administrators.
Isabella said she enjoyed having smaller classes at MiraCosta, as opposed to a university’s large lecture hall classes with several hundred students.
“At MiraCosta, you have a real connection with the professor,” she said. “You talk to them and they know you. They help you and guide you.”
She graduated from MiraCosta with degrees in child and adolescent development, sociology and social and behavioral science. She’s now majoring in psychology and sociology at UCSD, with plans to graduate in Spring 2023.
Isabella’s career goal is to become a counselor for international students – so she can help other students just as MiraCosta College helped her.