Student Speaker: Yujie "Crystal" Ma

Yujie "Crystal" MaAssociate in Business Degree

When Yujie Ma was 16 years old, her parents felt that studying abroad at an early age would help broaden her horizons. When they found out about Edmonds CC’s High School to University program, a high school completion program for international students, Ma decided it was the right program for her and moved to Washington from the Henan Province of China.

During her time at Edmonds CC, Ma engaged with the variety of cultures and clubs that the college has to offer. 

“Volunteering with the Global Volunteer Club and the Center for Student Engagement and Leadership  helped me get involved as a new student,” said Ma. “I had better understanding of different cultures by meeting people who had various cultural backgrounds and stories. Those interactions improved my English while gaining those valuable experiences that you can’t always learn in a classroom.”

Ma also worked as an international mentor for the Housing and Residence Life office at Edmonds CC where she served as a liaison between students and host families in the Homestay Program. After advertising, researching, and planning in her position, she realized that she wanted to go into the marketing field.

 After graduating from Edmonds CC with her Associate in Business Degree, Ma will be transferring to Western Washington University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Ultimately, she would like to become a marketing executive.

Ma’s advice to the graduating class, “Live in the moment. It is normal to feel lost when we graduate. Everyone worries about that next step or which job you are going to get. Take this time to do simple things like reading an inspiring book, going to a baseball game, or spending time with family. Taking care of yourself is important.”


Good evening.

Hello, graduating class of 2016,

Congratulations to all of you.

Congratulations on all of your effort in the past years.

Congratulations on the persistence you had when you cried and almost gave up.

And congratulations on your strength to overcome your obstacles.

My name is Crystal. I am an international student from China. It is my great honor to become a commencement speaker and to share my story with you. 

When I was twelve years old, my mom led me to meet a fortuneteller. It was the first time that someone told me I might be an introverted person. My mom was shocked and could not believe it. So did I. She said: “My daughter is very outgoing and talks a lot with her father and me. She always shares what happened in school after she comes back home every day.” I could not remember what the fortune teller replied to my mom because I thought it was so funny and ridiculous. I had never thought of myself as an introvert. I had not realized any difference between me and my friends.

However, I gradually noticed such differences after I had more experiences in communities and stepped into society. For example, I found out that I couldn’t say a word to the bus driver when I took the bus, even though I really wanted to say “hello” “good morning” and “thank you” like other people did. It was also very difficult for me to greet relatives who I did not meet very often. Besides, my face got red very easily when I spoke up in public.

(But you probably already knew that by the current color of my face)  

My parents also noticed my behaviors of introversion. When I talked to my father that I wanted to be a successful businesswoman in the future, he told me that it would be very hard for me because of my introverted personality which is not true.

So I tried very hard to change my reactions and my personality after I realized I am an introverted person. I wanted to prove that introverts can also speak very confidently in public. However, it is no doubt that I failed. I joined in a small Chinese student group with my roommate after I came to America. We met, ate, and talked each Friday. I did my best to interact with other people and join the conversations. However, I was very tired and did not enjoy myself at all. My roommate is a very extroverted person. She has no difficulties with having long conversations with someone who she first meets. I felt more disheartened when I saw that she was very energetic and very happy after we came back home every Friday.

In the Ted talk “The Power of Introverts,” Susan Cain said introversion is about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. Extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most as live and their most switched-on and they are most capable when they are in quieter, more low-key environments, not all the time - these things are not absolute - but a lot of the time.

There are plenty of examples of very successful introverted people in different careers. Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Christina Aguilera, Albert Einstein, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates all have ever defined themselves as introverts. These leaders are politician, activist, pop star, physicist, and entrepreneurs. It can be clear seen that introverted people can also do a great job in those areas which are considered as extroverts’ world, such as entertainment, revolution, and business. A research by Adam Grant at the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania shows that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do. Introverted leaders are more likely to listen to other employees’ suggestions and let them run their ideas, whereas extroverted leaders always put their own stamp on things so that it can be hard for them to notice other ideas.

So far, we can come to the point that there is no fundamental difference between introversion and extroversion. We have to admit that extroverted people have outstanding social skills, and introverted people are more careful. But it does not mean extroverted people are more “successful” than introverted people, or introverts should have privilege. For example, apples and lemons are fruits. Although apples are sweet and lemons are sour, we cannot say apples are better than lemons. In my opinion, socialization is the way for extroverted people to seek energy and get improved. Introverted people gain more happiness by doing something relatively more privately. The most important thing is to put yourself and your talent in the right stimulation which makes you feel most comfortable and inspired.

So, don’t be lost or confused. Either you are introverted or extroverted, just follow your heart and stick on your dreams. You will get to know the area which fit you best after you explore more in universities. Lastly, I want to share a Chinese saying to all of you: “Everyone is born to be somebody.”

I wish all of you, Edmonds CC graduating class of 2016, will have a bright future!

Thank you!