WASHINGTON, Pa. (Oct. 17, 2012) – Growing up in the Southeast Asian country of Burma, Hla “Jack” Hpone Myint always wanted to attend college in the U.S. because he believed it was a “symbol for human rights and democracy.”
Now, more than a month into his first year at Washington & Jefferson College, the pre-law and political science major is not only adjusting nicely to his new environment, but was invited to represent his home country at a series of state department meetings in Washington, D.C., in September. There, he had the chance to meet a number of high-ranking U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.
“This opportunity has inspired me to stay focused on my decision to eventually go back home and be a politician, to stand with my people in the fight for democracy,” said Myint, who was invited to D.C. as the guest and translator of Burmese Theraveda Buddhist monk Shwe Nya Wa Sayadaw.
During his visit, Myint also was given the opportunity to meet and listen to his “personal hero,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the country’s National League for Democracy.When Suu Kyi was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal at the U.S. Capitol, Myint was sitting right behind former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
“Suu Kyi cares so much about our country and has sacrificed, put a lot on the line, to get the respect she deserves, from citizens of Myanmar and of the world,” Myint said. He also listened to Suu Kyi speak at the National Endowment for Democracy 2012 Democracy Award Presentation.
Myint, who applied to 26 American colleges and universities and was accepted to 18, said W&J was “always at the top” of his list. Though he initially was intrigued by W&J’s Presidential name, the warm welcome he received from the College, including President Tori Haring-Smith, and the reputation W&J has for developing doctors and attorneys were Myint’s deciding factors.
“W&J is such a close-knit community and I have developed some close relationships already,” said Myint, who plans on attending graduate school or law school after W&J. “I always wanted to be President someday.”