The distance between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Omaha is 9,168 miles. That’s a long way to go to pursue an education. But for Matthew Moo, BSBA’16, it wasn’t too far to travel to attain a dream. For him, earning a business degree wasn’t just the next step toward adulthood like it is for most students; it was a vital part of his future aspirations, “the chance to live the American Dream,” Moo explains.
At 18 and in his final year of pre-university preparation at Kolej University HELP in his native Kuala Lumpur, Moo says he “was drawn to America’s values of freedom and opportunity.” So, he applied to 10 different universities in the U.S., a list on which Creighton ranked 10th.
“Not many people back home have heard of Creighton,” he admits. “I first heard of it when I attended a college fair back home, and I was drawn to Creighton’s prestige as the No. 1 university in the Midwest.” Moo opted for the more personalized education Creighton offers compared to the large state schools at which he was also accepted.
It’s a decision he is happy with for many reasons. “The perk of being in a tight-knit institution like Creighton is that professors know you and have a genuine interest in your well-being and success,” Moo states. As a member of Creighton’s Model UN team, he had the opportunity to represent the University in Melbourne, Australia, but his family could not afford the travel expenses. But the following year when the team was traveling to Brussels, Belgium, Moo was able to attend; the faculty moderator of the Model UN club solicited financial aid from different academic departments to ensure Moo’s participation. Once Moo secured paid internships his junior year, he was able to save for his own travel expenses, first to Seoul, South Korea and then the following year to Rome, Italy.
“And the coolest experience is that I got to meet and touch Pope Francis while at the Vatican City,” Moo says, but then adds. But “with or without the Pope, I am truly blessed.”
Fate determined that Moo would be a Bluejay twice over. After graduating with a double major in economics and finance, he had a job offer in Omaha. But he could not accept it; his Optional Practical Training (OPT) card, which allows international students a one-year pass to work in the U.S. without sponsorship, did not arrive in time. Additionally, his visa, passport and driver’s license were all expiring. Though he considers himself to be a “glass is half-full” person, Moo began to see his American Dream slipping from his grasp.
Having worked as a tour guide with the University Admissions Office as an undergraduate, Moo applied for and was offered, a graduate assistantship that afforded him the chance to earn his MBA tuition-free.
“Creighton made my dreams happen at 19 – first extending to me the opportunity to come to the United States. Once again, this institution pulled through for me at a very trying time in my life,” Moo states. “Creighton will take you in as who you are and tell you, ‘No matter if you are 18 or 24 or 30 or whatever point you are at in life, it is OK to be undecided. We will help you in your discernment process and find fulfillment and peace in the work you do.’”
While at Creighton, Moo has held four internships and currently is employed by Gavilon, an agricultural commodities trading company in Omaha. It’s ironic, Moo finds, that a self-professed “city slicker” from Kuala Lumper is learning about corn, soybeans and cattle feed in Omaha. “Forget the American Dream,” he laughs, “I am living the Nebraska Dream.”
Moo became a U.S. permanent resident this past January. He hopes, upon graduation in May 2018, to find work that combines his interests in economics and finance and his strong analytical abilities. Until then, he will continue to embrace the Jesuit value magis, meaning “more,” and make the most of the opportunities Creighton offers.
And to prospective students, both international and domestic, he says, “Make the best out of your time and privilege here.”