Student Testimonials

photo of Sokunpharady KaoSokunpharady Kao, MA '20, Sustainable International Development, Cambodia

What do you do during ELP at Heller office hours?

I am from a rural area in Cambodia where there is no well-trained English teacher.  I have been going to ELP office hours for both the Writing and Oral Communication sessions for the last three semesters. For the Writing session, I visit Dr. Scott Moore to get his advice and assistance on my master’s thesis and assignments. For instance, regarding my master’s thesis, he gives me guidance on how to write each section of the paper in order for me to meet the standard of writing and then he helps me with editing my paper. He does the same for all my class assignments. I always get good feedback from my professors on the clear and well-organized structure paper, in which I incorporate his feedback and guidance. Generally, I have improved my writing proficiency from time to time after using the office hours regularly. Scott is more than the writing advisor to me. In addition, he is more like my friend, advisor and professor. He gives me advice on even course selection and career pathway. Recently, he helped me with resume and cover letter writing. He is the person I always go to whenever I need help.

For the Oral Communications session, Angela has helped me improve my speaking abilities a lot. I was so amazed by how well she could analyze areas of improvement for me the first time we met. We have worked on pronunciation and speaking accuracy. We’ve also worked on developing my presentation and class participation skills and I’ve gained more confidence in my speaking abilities. In addition, she always helped me with the class assignments as well. To me, she is my great friend, advisor and professor who has contributed significantly to my development here.

Another tremendous accomplishment I achieved with their assistance and motivation was winning awards from three different start up competitions at Brandeis such as the Startup Challenge, Hult Prize competition and SparkTank competition. Angela prepared me well with the pitch presentation. Furthermore, she strongly motivated me to participate in those competitions, and so did Scott. I cannot express enough thanks to both Scott and Angela for all their strong and kind support and encouragement. I could not imagine how hard and lonely my life as a graduate student in a completely different environment here would be if I did not have them to assist me. 

What are your future plans?

After graduation, I plan to go back to my home country, Cambodia to work in youth development sector that I involved in prior to Heller. Simultaneously, I plan to start up a project on the organic farming in my home community through which I hope to help my villager generate income, and thereby reduce school dropout rate and migration rate among young.

photo of Dinar KharismaDinar Kharisma, PhD ‘20, Social Policy, Indonesia

What did you study at Heller? 

I studied social policy with a focus on health policy and social exclusion at the Heller School. I defended my dissertation in August 2019 and received my doctoral degree in February 2020. 

How did you hear about ELP at Heller office hours?

My office was right next to the ELP room at Heller. However, I learned about it more from the website when I finalized my dissertation and needed help to improve its English.

How did ELP at Heller help you?  

With Scott's help, I managed to finish my dissertation on time.  Now my dissertation has been deposited and will be published by ProQuest, which will substantially support my career. Moreover, the long hours that I spent with Scott in editing my dissertation has made me more sensitive and aware of the common mistakes I used to make. He helped me to make my statements stronger and clearer. We worked a lot on applying more consistent tenses on my dissertation. He read my writing aloud when we worked together so I could notice if something sounded weird or needed changes. While I’m not perfect, I gained some skills to do English editing by myself and feel more confident in my own skills.

What have you been doing since you graduated from Heller?

I live in Indonesia and work as a policy planner in the Ministry of National Development Planning. I am currently handling some new social policy initiatives, including starting an elderly care program to address Indonesia's aging population and utilizing digital financial services in the government's social assistance to the poor population.

Heran Biza, MA’18, Global Health Policy and Management, Ethiopia

male and female in conversation while sitting across table from each otherHow did you hear about ELP at Heller?

I heard about the ELP program first from Vino (Murugesan), director of ELP, when she gave us a training on time management at Heller. I also had a chance to talk to other students who used the program, which helped me understand how important it is.

What do you do during ELP at Heller office hours?

During the oral sessions, I participate in a one-on-one discussion with an English language professional. She helps me diagnose areas of improvement and come up with a plan tailored to my needs and interest. For example, I wanted to work on pronunciation, so we came up with a specific plan for me to improve my pronunciation. During the writing sessions, I have a chance to critically think about how I plan my writing assignments and papers. I am using the writing sessions to prepare my writing samples to submit for a PhD application.

How have ELP at Heller office hours helped you?

The ELP sessions are very helpful both academically and personally. For my academic performance, it helps to improve the quality of my oral communication with students and faculty. I thought I was very good at speaking English and didn't really think I needed it. But when I actually started the session, I was surprised by how much more there was for me to work on. These aren’t just academic skills, I can use for my daily interactions in my personal life, too. The writing sessions also helped me to think critically about how to plan my writing and to develop my papers. The most important part of both sessions is that it is tailored to the individual needs of the student.

Fengyun Luo, MA’19, Sustainable International Development, China

head shot of fengyun luoWhat do you do during ELP at Heller office hours?

Last semester, I wanted to improve my oral English and focused more on daily communication and academic communication. Angela (Tribus Ramos) helped me correct my pronunciation, grammar mistakes and taught me how to make an argument in class, how to do a presentation, etc. This semester, since I’m trying to find an internship, we’re practicing interviewing skills.

How have ELP at Heller office hours helped you?

ELP has helped me a lot. It has given me more opportunities to practice my English. The most important thing is that Angela’s kindness and patience gives me confidence. Sometimes I just want to have someone to talk with in English. I think practice is the most effective way to improve oral English. Since I wasn’t confident before, I was afraid of talking with my classmates and professors. At ELP, I feel more relaxed, and Angela always encourages me and never judges me. I feel safe and comfortable talking with her. I think ELP is more than an English teaching program. It can help international students deal with the fear and depression we experience when adapting to a totally different culture and environment.

What are your future plans?

After graduating from Heller, I want to work with an international NGO focusing on children; youth education and development; and poverty alleviation. I want to use what I’ve learned from Heller and my previous experiences to do something that can make a difference to the world, no matter how small it is.

Meron Eyeram, MS’18, Global Health Policy and Management, Eritrea

headshot of meron eyeramWhat do you do during ELP at Heller office hours?

In the oral communication sessions, Angela (Tribus) identified most of my pronunciation issues in the first session and taught me, step by step, how to pronounce certain words correctly. She shared with me several sites to use for practice in my free time and encourage me to come back with questions. She has also been helping me prepare for presentations and interviews. In the writing sessions, I take my written assignments to go over them with Scott (Moore), and he helps me in identifying and correcting any issues in grammar, word choice and sentence structure. I always get feedback on how to improve those skills.

How have ELP at Heller office hours helped you?

ELP office hours helped me to significantly improve my speaking and writing skills. The one-on-one sessions not only helped me to improve my pronunciation and writing, but also to gain confidence.

What are your future plans?

My background is public health, and I am here at Heller to enhance to enhance my skills to be a better policymaker and to improve the healthcare delivery and the health of the poor community in the developing world.