overcoming international obstacles

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Overcoming International Obstacles

Mateja hoting a radio show.Mateja Klaric had to overcome more than a few barriers to graduate in May 2016 from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Mateja is Slovenian and always wanted to study at an American university because of their global reputation.

She traveled to Arizona to take English and math placement tests at a Phoenix community college in hopes of remaining in the US to complete her bachelor's degree. Mateja fell in love with the university system, mainly the promotion of critical thinking, which she hadn’t encountered in her home country.

Mateja soaked up the diverse discussions, appreciation for different points of view, and being able to speak your mind.

“Coming from an ex Communist country, that is really precious,” she said.

While she knew she wanted to continue her education in the States, staying in the US became increasingly difficult due to visa and financial restrictions. Her friend recommended trying ASU Online and after researching the rankings and partnerships, her decision was made.

Mateja considers herself a non-traditional student, since she has 20 years of work experience behind her. She’s worked as a freelance journalist and media personality and selected psychology for her studies.

“It encompasses everything and you can use it everywhere; media, private practice, counseling, law,” she said.

She loved being able to study on her own time, even if that meant at 2 a.m. in her pajamas.

“Considering my lifestyle, this was perfect for me, especially because I was working full time and across the world from many classmates.”

Along with the promotion of critical thinking, Mateja loved her professors.

“They were absolutely amazing and I felt lucky to have them. I built great relationships with them and they were often impressed with my work.”

She still keeps in touch with her professors and really enjoys having these connections.

When Mateja was just three courses away from graduating she lost her job. She reached out to her success coach with the news that she didn’t believe she could finish her degree due to financial reasons.

“I was so sad that I wasn't going to be able to finish my degree. I could live with losing my home but not losing my degree.”

A few days later she received an email from her success coach, James, advising that ASU had a scholarship that would allow her to complete her degree. He explained that this wasn’t an ordinary scholarship, but given her excellent grades and unique situation, she would be able to finish her degree.

“When I got the email that I was getting a scholarship I just cried. It was like a miracle. I’m so grateful to him and to ASU to give me that opportunity, because otherwise all the years and money would be wasted.”

Mateja continues to be thankful to ASU and her success coach, for giving her the extra help she needed to complete her degree. She believes she gained so much more than just a degree, mentioning mastery of a foreign language, learning a great deal about a different culture and a broadened perspective.

After graduation Mateja flirted with the idea of pursuing her PhD, but instead is moving in a different direction. Inspired by her own online learning experience, she is launching an online guidance and counseling service called “Transform the Pain.” She believes with her personal experience and formal education through ASU, she can help people in mourning cope with their pain.

Mateja’s advice to ASU Online students, both domestic and international, would be to use every spare moment you have.

“If you work full time and study, you’re not left with much free time. It can be tough, but if you’re enjoying your major and your courses it will also be extremely interesting and rewarding.”

Learn more about the ASU online psychology degree program.