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Graduating International Student Acts on Dedication to Education at UT

  • May 7, 2024
  • Trinity Bella Hawkins

[Editor’s Note: In celebration of The University of Texas at Austin’s graduating class — who demonstrate every day that ‘What starts here changes the world’ — Texas Global presents a  series featuring graduating students who leave a lasting impact on international education and their UT Austin community.]    

Approaching graduation, Mason Chng reflected on how his time on the Forty Acres has augmented his aspirations to learn and develop. Building on his family's Longhorn lineage and history of scholarly involvement, Chng has shaped his experience at The University of Texas at Austin into one that is truly unique, defined by his commitment to personal development through a thirst for knowledge and a desire to make lifelong connections. 

“My experience has been unique, but at the same time, it has just been the people I decided to be around, who really contribute to making my experience more enjoyable,” said Chng. “And I guess that's something that I've learned growing up: You can't pick where you get to be. But you can always pick who you get to be around.” 

Mason Chng Math Happens group photo

Branch of the Family’s University Tree 

Majoring in mathematics with a UTeach diploma, Chng has consistently harbored ambitions to bring about change on a global scale, like so many Longhorns across the world before him. His family includes his three other siblings, who have also attended the university. However, his story began in a location far from Texas: his family’s home country of Singapore. 

Chng made the same choice as his father made more than three decades ago: to enroll at UT Austin. The elder’s choice has significantly impacted Chng and his family. Their father's experience many years ago has given rise to many positive outcomes, including Chng’s and his siblings' decisions to attend UT. 

“Knowing that he came over some 30-odd years ago gave me like a sense of, ‘OK, this is something that my dad has gone through — and done expertly — and that I can do,’ ” said Chng. 

International View on Education 

Throughout his experience at UT, Chng has taken part in some of the most singular programs available for students on campus. These include UTeach, a signature UT Austin program dedicated to creating opportunities for incoming generations of STEM teachers.  

“I had been wondering what I could do with a math degree,” said Chng. “My sister at that time has graduated from the program, and the [coordinators] said, ‘Hey, you can actually do this program and get certified to teach.’ And I decided to give it a shot.”  

He added, “I am doing the last few classes for it right now, and it has been a very welcoming and open environment. I've gotten the opportunity to do internships as well as student teaching. It's been a very enjoyable time.” 

Chng has thoughts on the matter when asked about his intentions for his future with his degree. 

“Currently, the plan is to work as a teacher. However, with a mathematics degree, I feel as though there are so many different options for me. Later down the road, I might like to change careers into something that's more math-focused.” 

Mason Chng grad photo

Global Connections on Campus 

As a result of his lengthy familial history with the university, Chng has gained a wealth of knowledge regarding its distinctive qualities. He elaborated on the way in which, during the past few years of his studies, he has forged connections that contributed to the uniqueness of his experience. 

“I think the greatest benefit of coming to UT is making the connections with different people from outside of the Austin area,” said Chng. “There's always something for you at UT; you just have to put in some effort for them. Once you find that, it's a very rewarding experience. And it's something I don't think you'd find anywhere else.”  

Chng's personal enthusiasm for education was fueled by the dedication to knowledge that permeates his family, and his personal experience has further been strengthened by his fervor and enthusiasm for education. He concluded by offering some parting words of wisdom to incoming students embarking on trajectories similar to his own. 

“For whoever's coming to do UTeach or reading this, something good to know is that when you're trying something new, it's OK to be afraid, but never let it stop you from trying again,” said Chng about the process of finding one’s path. “You might find something new that you like doing, and that might be your next big thing. Who knows what might happen?”