Chloe Yalung stared at the empty green walls of her dorm. An overwhelming feeling of loneliness and fear crept up. She picked up her life on the tropical island of Rota and moved to the landlocked high desert of Boise, Idaho. Had she made the right move?
Chloe knew she had to move in order to grow. Coming from a lower middle class family, Boise held more opportunities for her than her home island could offer. But so many things could happen in an unfamiliar place where she didn’t know anyone.
Overcoming and accepting challenges
Chloe discovered the possibility of attending Boise State University through an outreach presentation her senior year of high school. Only a small population of Rota considers pursuing higher education, “The opportunities for learning, growth, and advancement were slim and limited and I had no room to grow. I knew I had to go out of my comfort zone.”
It was a big deal for Chloe to decide to pursue her education at Boise State and she couldn’t have done it without her support system. She had people that believed in her and wanted to see her succeed including family, her high school teacher, Chanelle Manglona, and Gerard Van Gils, the founder of the Million Dollar Scholars program, which helps minority students attend college affordably. Even though the program is no longer operational, Gerard helped Chloe get on her feet and even gave Chloe and her mom a place to stay while they familiarized themselves with Boise.
“Although it is rather small, my island community is mighty in spirit. As I’m out here pursuing my dreams, it’s like they’re right there with me, cheering me on through any challenge that comes my way.”
Getting plugged in
Her worries about living in Boise subsided when she met her RA and her roommates who eased the discomfort of this life-changing adjustment.
“The RAs helped me adjust and help build that sense of community that I value so deeply.”
As a people person, Chloe thrives off of genuine friendships and quality time. She learned quickly that Towers was just the place to do that since residents find themselves bumping into each other in the halls.
It didn’t take the first year student long to make friends. It all started where you might not expect friendships to form — in Albertsons Library.
Chloe was hired as an access service employee making her the first line of customer service ready to help. You’ll most likely see her at the information desk answering phone calls, helping students check out books and diffusing technical difficulties.
“Working at the library has been a great place for me to grow so it doesn’t feel like working even though I am.”
She got to know her coworkers, which led to meeting their friends and then friends of friends. Before she knew it, her circle expanded and she gained friends from islands neighboring hers. She realized she wasn’t alone in her search for community and familiarity.
“If I had never taken the job, I probably never would have known, ‘Oh there’s actually some people who can relate to me here.’”
Experiencing Idaho firsts
“I was able to make a lot of core memories with my roommates and other people and I was able to try a lot of new things outside of school.”
In a word, Chloe’s first semester was “awesome”. Some of her core memories included getting a taste of what Idaho has to offer. She’s used to eating traditional meals with rice everyday, but she branched out and tried Jack in the Box for the first time — a real treat.
She learned to snowboard (and fall gracefully, of course) on Bogus Basin, floated the Boise river on a paddle board and hunted for huckleberries in McCall. To add to her Idaho firsts, she watched the good ol’ potato drop on New Years Eve.
What better place to experience the best of Idaho, than in its capital city?
One of the biggest lessons Chloe had to learn (the hard way) is that overloading her plate isn’t worth it. She realized she didn’t leave enough hours in a day to do all the things she wanted and needed to do for herself.
“It is important to have those extra-curriculars that you want to dedicate your time to,” she said, “but I think it’s also important to step back, take a deep breath and look at it objectively and think of where can you fit in self care.”
The overworked student found that prioritizing herself so she didn’t feel drained at the end of the day was a better way to live rather than dividing her attention between a million things (give or take).
She suggests, “Having a dedicated time to rest and unwind would help with your overall schedule…I keep my wind down time sacred.”
Seeing school as a blessing
As someone who takes courageous steps to impact her future, Chloe sees the opportunity to learn as a gift to be grateful for.
“There’s so many people in the world who don’t have the opportunity to come out and pursue this kind of education and it’s really been a blessing.”
Her chosen career path goes deeper than just declaring a major. “Nursing is one of the most direct ways I can make a difference to people back home.” Rota has a struggling healthcare system and patients experiencing medical emergencies have to be flown out to another island for treatment. This happened to Chloe’s Grandma when she experienced an accident and had to wait to be transferred in order to receive proper care. The pain this caused Chloe’s family inspired her to enter the medical field.
“I hope that one day I’ll be able to go back home and make a difference in lives by connecting people with the quality of care that they deserve.”
Attending Boise State helped Chloe recognize that continuing her education and being able to pay for the expenses that come with it is a privilege not to be taken for granted. She’s learned hard lessons along the way, but encourages others to “Give yourself some grace. You won’t get it right away.” Her heart goes out to the people around the world, including everyone on her home island, who don’t believe they can build a future.
“If a girl from a random island in the middle of nowhere can come out and pursue a future, then you can too.”