Recruiting in Myanmar – finding peace of mind and international students

Dean of Admissions, Dane Rowley, travels to Myanmar to recruit students from Asia. He’s launching Augustana’s focused effort to welcome more international students to campus.

Yangon, Myanmar

Few countries or cities have made as great an impact on me as Yangon and Myanmar as a whole (the US still refers to it as Burma and the capitol as Rangoon). This is my 3rd time in the city. I was there for the first time 5 years ago with large group of US colleges and we missed the violent monk-led protests of 2007 by just a day. I returned there 3 years ago with just one other school to brave the road less traveled and had amazing recruiting success (and personal fulfillment).

In the time since 2009 Ang San Su Kyi is now free and the country is moving closer to social, political and economic freedom. I was a little more nervous visiting this time though because I was the group leader for this stop on the Pocari Sweat Tour and with 2 of the university reps being new to the country I wanted to make sure the city was worthwhile for their institutions. I was also eager for them to see this beautiful land and people the way I do.

A wonderful family I know from some connections with my alma mater helped set us up with a great driver for the 2 days we’d be there. He was there at the airport waiting for us, smiling as we piled into his van. We spent a lot of time with Khro Say and even though he didn’t speak much English, he was a new member of our tour group for a short time. I really packed a crazy schedule in to our time in Myanmar but we did make time for a quick 1 hour stop at the main Pagoda in Yangon.



In most other countries the Swedagon Pagoda would be nothing more than a tour spot that used to be a functional place of worship. But not in Myanmar.  The place can best be described as a Buddhist shrine, monastical retreat, place of prayer and worship, and temple complex, all with a mystical beauty enchanting me every time I visit. I hoped that my traveling companions from Babson, Chapman and Elon felt the same way.

After an all too quick stop there, we made our way to the Inya Lake Hotel for a workshop and college fair for the students of Yangon International School. We had a great turnout and the students showed great interest in all 4 of our colleges.

After the 3 hour program we met up with counselors and administrators from 5 international schools and also with 2 US embassy officers who work to promote US culture and education in Myanmar. We had a delicious dinner and lively discussion about the future of Myanmar, the upcoming US election, and how we can get more US colleges to visit this special place.

Monday was an awesome day in Yangon. It rained on us for most of the day and we had a break of only about 30 minutes to eat food in a 10 hour day but we accomplished so much. We visited 3 high schools, 1 educational resource center, and the US Embassy/American Center. All totaled we met with over 260 students in 2 days, talking to them about each of our colleges, how to apply to the US and how to write an exceptional essay.

I left Yangon Monday night exhausted but so grateful for the wonderful students I got to know, and grateful for the dedicated guidance counselors and diplomats who give so much to them. I sincerely hope that it is not another 3 years before I go back to one of places that has transformed me in its own Burmese way.

About meghancooley

Meghan Cooley has worked in admissions for over 15 years. She's served in a variety of roles, ranging from tour guide to admissions counselor to her most recent position as Director of Admissions and Recruitment. Through many admissions cycles - she's experienced the ebb and flow of the higher education landscape in the Midwest, become an expert on family dynamics within the college search, guided many through the details of the college search and witnessed the joy and disappointment of student college decisions.

Now, as the Director of Recruitment Communication and Manager of social media at Augustana College, Meghan and her team of talented students focus on marketing Augustana to prospective families, educating families about the college search process, and enhancing professional development opportunities in the profession. She is passionate about increasing diversity (socio-economic and ethnic) in private higher education, alleviating the fears and frustrations that often come with a college search (especially in first generation families), and above all, helping students find the best fit for them as they explore all the educational opportunities available.

Meghan often invites guest bloggers mostly including Augustana admissions staff and current students to contribute. The talented students and staff offer a perspective in the trenches of the college search and college experience.

A 1999 graduate of Augustana College, Meghan holds Bachelor's Degrees in English and Spanish. An avid international traveler, she recommends hiking the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu in Peru, eating Gelato in Rome, Italy, and seeing an opera at the Volksoper in Vienna, Austria. She is married to Augustana graduate and Modern Woodmen project manager, Luke Cooley. They have three sons, Charles, Oliver and Bennett.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *