Q&A with Cathy Mae Dutong


Courtesy of Cathy Mae Dutong

Crystal Clausen, Online Editor

Meet Cathy Mae Dutong, a junior majoring in Business Administration specializing in Marketing Management and minoring in Digital Marketing and Accounting. Last month, CWU hosted the annual Student Employee Awards and Cathy Mae traveled from Lynnwood to Ellensburg to attend the ceremony. It was the first time she had stepped foot on the main campus and was surprised to win the award at the end of the ceremony.

Q: What made you want to apply to your current position in the Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP)?

A: One of the main reasons why I applied for the Office of International Studies and Programs is that I know that my position involves helping international students like me get the resources, support, and student life that they deserve. I enrolled in CWU in Fall 2020, the height of the pandemic, and I felt more out of touch with the community because of lockdowns and the fact that I’m located at the centers. This position gave me the opportunity to help international students at centers to connect with their community the same way I wanted to when I first got into CWU.

Q: What is your favorite part about working in OISP?

A: Number 1 favorite would be the people I meet. Getting to know students and their backgrounds brings me joy that I’m more of a global student each day at CWU.

Q: What is the one thing that you would tell a new student coming into this position?

A: Don’t be afraid of being the first person to say hello! If you happen to know how to greet an international student in their native language, the surprise and joy they will feel would be worth it to see.

Q: How has your background of being from the Philippines helped you connect with international students?

A: As a Filipino, it is in my culture and upbringing to be hospitable and polite to every person I meet. In addition to growing up in Bahrain, surrounded by different nationalities and backgrounds, I learned to adapt well with those differences. My parents were also adamant that I am exposed to different people because it is also in my culture to make sure that we don’t disrespect anyone by being ignorant. That’s why I feel a connection with international students that I meet because I saw myself in them when I was younger.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment at CWU?

A: My most memorable moment would be the day I won the Student Employee of the Year 2022, Washington State Employee of the Year, and nominee for National student employee of the year. I’m located at the CWU Lynnwood center and when I got the invitation in my mail, I thought that it was a great excuse to go and see the campus in person. But what made it memorable was that I wasn’t expecting to win at all! I went to the Ellensburg campus because I wanted to experience what it’s like being there and attend a program. So, hearing my name get called was both a huge surprise and an emotional moment because the trip to Ellensburg was full of worry and anxiety. Since it was my first time traveling alone to a completely new place and my phone was dead, I didn’t want to get lost. Therefore, I remember feeling that I wanted to leave the place as soon as possible to find a charging station. However, once I accepted the award, I remembered all the work I did for the past year and a half and how hard I worked and studied at CWU. I remembered feeling recognized for my efforts even though I’m at the center campus and I also remember my parents’ sacrifices and efforts to give me a bright future. Finally, I remember feeling quite confused about winning 3 student employee awards because I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I was only doing my best.

Q: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: My younger self wanted to be a singer. That’s because I grew up in a musically-inclined household and I participated in my school’s choir and theater for the majority of my school life.