Yael Hensen Anaya, 23, a native of Mallorca, Spain, says she grew up dreaming of travelling and immersing herself in other cultures. Although she lived in what some might call a “paradise,” Hensen says she was always aware that her aspirations to study international relations would be limited on her beloved island.
Hensen found Pierce College in 2021 while searching online for the best community colleges in the United States. Drawn in by the vibrant international student community, Hensen said as she learned more about how Pierce College’s mission and values aligned with her own, she soon realized Pierce would be the place she was meant to be.
“When I visited the campus the first time I was amazed because colleges where I come from are not like this,” Hensen said. “I’ve never gotten used to it. Every time I visit the campus, I just think it’s beautiful, it’s awesome.”
Hensen said at Pierce College, she was able to explore her education in a way she could not have imagined.
“There are so many ways that students can be successful here because it doesn’t matter if you’re artistic or you’re more into sciences or you’re better at creative writing,” Hensen said. “For me, [school] was never about creating your own opinion or gathering the information you need to make your own opinion. I had never written an essay or worked on many group projects, and I learned more because of the diversity of all the students I got to collaborate with.”
As an international student at Pierce College, Hensen lived at the Center for Global Scholars (CGS) and had roommates from Japan, Ukraine, the United States and South Korea. She said the relationships she built with her roommates and friends at CGS helped her grow into the person she is today.
Hensen graduated in 2023 with an associate in arts – direct transfer agreement degree. During her journey at Pierce she served as President of the Associated Students of Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, participated in the college’s hiring of a new chancellor as a member of the search committee, and now works in Pierce College’s Marketing and Communications department as an outreach manager. Now, she is working to gain more experience in her field before she transfers to a 4-year university in the fall of 2024.
“Pierce has prepared me very well for what a four-year university is going to look like,” Hensen said. “I’ve learned a lot of responsibility and discipline and how to work every day toward my goals.”
On advice for future students, Hensen said to expand your boundaries.
“I took a lot of courses that don’t really have much to do with my major,” Hensen said. “I took introduction to weather where I had to set up my weather station and measure the weather every day and that doesn’t have much to do with international relations, but I feel like it gave me a better understanding of the world.”