Mu Mu Aye Earns World Citizen Award

Published Friday, April 20, 2018
Mu Mu Aye
Mu Mu Aye

SMSU senior Mu Mu Aye recently received a $500 Mark M. Welter World Citizen Award through the Minnesota State system. She was one of 20 students in the Minnesota State system to receive the award, which is given to “students in good academic standing who have demonstrated a keen awareness of our interconnected world.”

“I received a letter in the mail saying I received the scholarship. It was a complete surprise,” she said. “I have been stressed about student loans, so I am very grateful for this award.”

Students chosen to receive the award show an understanding that “all people - all cultures, all creeds, all colors, and all countries - have been ‘depositors and withdrawers at the world bank of knowledge.’”

Aye, a native of Myanmar, spent six years in a refugee camp on the border of Myanmar and Thailand before arriving in the U.S. in 2012. After spending a year in Houston, Texas, she arrived in Marshall with her husband, Eh Sher, and son, Andrew, to take a Human Resources position at Turkey Valley Farms. “My number one goal in the U.S. was to earn a college degree,” Aye said. So after working for a year, she started classes at SMSU.

Aye chose to major in Sociology because of the opportunity to learn about people, a topic that relates closely to her background as a refugee and her experience as an interpreter in Marshall.

“I’ve enjoyed the school atmosphere,” Aye said. “The faculty, students and staff are all welcoming. Nobody will turn you away.“ She often visits with professors after class, and has found they are willing to offer help and encouragement. “Dr. Kerry Livingston has been especially helpful and understanding of my background. The staff in the Access, Opportunity Success office have also been very welcoming.”

On campus, Aye is involved in the Hispanic Culture Club and Culture Shock events. She brings other immigrant women with her to cook Myanmar delicacies at the annual International Food Festival. “I’m pushing new students from my country toward the front now. When they can be in charge of something they feel empowered, and I am trying to be a guide for them,” she said.  

She appreciates the diversity at SMSU, where she interacts with a wide range of races and age groups, including international, non-traditional and GOLD College students.

“I think exposure to different cultures makes people more sensitive, more open-minded and respectful,” Aye said. “When they go into the workplace they won’t be intimidated by people different from them.”

Aye will work full-time after graduating, and hopes to later pursue a master’s degree in sociology.

Her advice to students: “People say ‘you’re so brave,’ but really I’m scared,” she said. “I just keep going. You have to keep going and give it a try.”

The Mark M. Welter World Citizen Award exists to provide an annual tribute to Minnesota State students who most exemplify the thoughts, words, and actions demanded by a 21st century world citizen.

Congratulations, Mu Mu Aye, we are proud to have you as part of the Mustang Family!