International, First-Generation Student Experience Inspires Online Platform

There are many issues and challenges facing international and first-generation college students in the college admission process and as they work to earn their degrees.

But one student is taking those challenges and using them as the basis for her new education tech start-up.

Scarlett Ong Rui Chern is a senior at the University of Michigan and the co-founder and CEO of her own start-up.

“As an international and first-generation college student, I came to the United States for my higher education and I remembered struggling in my first year. Besides experiencing culture shock, I remembered going in and out of lectures with thousands of questions,” she wrote for Newsweek.

“I felt so lost and confused, and I didn’t know who the best person was to reach out to for help. I realized that I didn’t have sufficient and suitable peer support to guide me through my situation, and that this was happening to many other students as well.”

This experience inspired her to start Peerstachio, an online peer-to-peer community platform that connects underclassmen with trusted upperclassmen, getting them the academic assistance they need and want. The website offers a group messaging platform and student reviews.

“[I wanted to] help all the other students out there who are going through similar situations as I did,” Chern said.

Read her full story.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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