CCM Alumnus Spencer Utt spent a good deal of his time as a UC student exploring the world. Now he’s across the world, sharing the university’s strengths with prospective college students in Vietnam.
Utt is UC’s new Vietnam Country Coordinator – a full-time position in Vietnam under International Admissions – to expand the university’s reputation in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Utt graduated from CCM in 2010 with a bachelor of music in bassoon performance and a minor in Asian Studies from the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S).
He says his passion for world exploration took him away from his UC studies for two years (he started at UC in 2004) to do volunteer service in Australia.
“After my first year at UC, I had an opportunity to move to Australia for two years and do volunteer work among the Asian immigrant communities in Brisbane. UC was very accommodating in letting me take time away from my studies and take full advantage of this rare opportunity.
“Through this experience, I gained a lot of perspective regarding the challenges of east-meets-west integration and living in multicultural communities. From there, moving to China and now to Vietnam were simply steps along the same path,” says Utt.
In 2008, he pursued a study abroad experience in Beijing, China and was there when the city hosted the Summer Olympics.
“I located a good language school in Beijing with tuition that I could afford, and found a host family by networking with Chinese friends studying in Ohio. My Chinese friends were excited that I was going to visit their home country and were very helpful. When I spent a couple weeks traveling around the country at the end of the program I was able to visit the hometowns of many of my friends and visit their families.” says Utt.
Utt says he became interested in alternative career paths “that allowed me to continue being a musician for the love of music, and not the need to earn a living.” He became a part-time student worker at UC International Affairs and says he grew increasingly interested in UC’s global presence. He spent the summer of 2009 with International Admissions on a three-month recruitment tour in China and says he fell in love with working with international students.
“I really enjoy talking to students about campus life and what it’s like being in Cincinnati, but other major points include UC’s rankings and global scholarships.”
The number of Vietnamese students studying in the United States has dramatically risen over the past few years. According to the most recent Open Doors report, Vietnam is the eighth largest country for sending students to the U.S. There were 14,888 Vietnamese students enrolled in American colleges and universities in the 2010-2011 academic year, the most recent year for which there is data. This represented a 13.5 percent increase in Vietnamese students from the previous year.
In this growing country, the academic demand is for business and engineering. “The prospect of gaining U.S. work experience through the co-op program (founded at UC) is definitely the biggest attraction for Vietnamese students, as well as UC’s affordability and high quality of education,” Utt says.
Utt first arrived in Vietnam less than a week after his graduation from UC in 2010 to work for a recruiting agency, and then started with UC International Admissions as representative. He has worked as Vietnam Country Coordinator since last December and says he has been able to utilize his CCM background by performing regularly with the Ho Chi Minh City Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles in Vietnam.