Alumni Reflection: Malaysia

Hervinder posing with a smile in front of the White House on a sunny day during her visit to Washington DC
Hervinder posing in front of the White House during her visit to Washington, DC

Hi! I’m Hervinder Kaur, Global UGRAD 2022-2023 alum from Malaysia. I attended Florida Gulf Coast University during the fall semester. The Global UGRAD Program has been my “time of life,” a journey I wish I could re-live all over again. It allowed me to experience a world-class education system, where I could express my individuality without fear of judgment. UGRAD is transformational; it became a catalyst in both my personal and professional growth. Through UGRAD, I became a staff writer for the student newspaper, participated in community service, and traveled across the United States, all of which propelled me beyond my comfort zone. My exchange semester had its own ups and downs, such as my experience with Hurricane Ian, which redefined the word “resilience” for me.

Hervinder and her friend Dani smiling on a sunny day walking through FGCU's campus
Hervinder and her first American friend, Dani

Global UGRAD was an excellent networking opportunity. My friends now extend across several time zones and latitudes. From my Thanksgiving host family to the friends with whom I sat in the quad, to my fellow UGRADs at FGCU, this journey taught me that kindness exists even when the world seems harsh at times.

Global UGRAD was my master door to new opportunities. This year, I’ve been blessed with opportunities that I once used to wish for. In February, I was invited to speak at a Fulbright conference hosted by Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education. During that conference, a journalist approached me for an interview which was later published in the Study International Blog. Similarly, a professor invited me to share more about my journey at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), a public university in Penang, Malaysia.

Hervinder presenting at the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia during the Fulbright Conference standing behind a microphone with a the Malaysian and US Flags in the background
Hervinder presenting at the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia during the Fulbright Conference

Things didn’t stop there. I soon led a project at my university aimed at increasing students’ awareness about the Global UGRAD Program and other Fulbright scholarships. My face glowed with happiness when some of my peers walked up to me and said, “You had an inspiring time in the U.S., We are interested in this too!” Nothing makes me happier than to see others experience the Global UGRAD Program, and this motivates me for the journey ahead in life.

Looking back at Global UGRAD, it always gives me fresh hope for my upcoming future and constantly reminds me that no dreams are too big to achieve. After all, Global UGRAD was a dream I never thought would come true; I always felt it was beyond my reach both physically and financially. Unlike most of my friends, I had never heard of this program until I was selected for it. A random Google search took me to the other side of the globe and made me believe that dreams do come true.

To anyone reading this article, I wish to let you know that your current circumstances aren’t your final destination, and the sweat and tears will take you on an unforgettable ride ahead! And yes, this is also a reminder for my future self.

Group of professionals, including Hervinder, smiling and posing at the Fulbright Sharing Session
Hervinder Kaur (far right) at a Fulbright Sharing Session at Universiti Sains Malaysia, with former Fulbrighters and MACEE’s Executive Director, Curtis Johnson (center)