Students, Alumni, Staff Benefit from First Mason China 1+2+1 Program Alumni Panel

By Sudha Kamath and Qifei Zhang

From left: Haoxiao Yu, Shimeng Zhang, President Ángel Cabrera, Yichi Xu, and Mason’s China 1+2+1 program administrators Lisa O’Hara and Diane Wang. Photo by Youjin Zhang.

From left: Haoxiao Yu, Shimeng Zhang, President Ángel Cabrera, Yichi Xu, and Mason’s China 1+2+1 program administrators Lisa O’Hara and Diane Wang. Photo by Youjin Zhang.

For the first time, several alumni of George Mason University’s China 1+2+1 Dual Degree Transfer Programreturned to the Fairfax Campus to share their secrets to success with more than 60 other George Mason alumni, students, faculty and staff. Three George Mason graduates, who are now rising to the top of their career fields, came to reunite and network, and perhaps just as importantly, to inspire.

On Oct. 18 at the Johnson Center, the alumni formed a panel sponsored by the Office of Global Strategy and Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations, and organized by Qifei Zhang, a current Mason China 1+2+1 program student and Global Strategy intern.

In opening remarks, President Ángel Cabrera lauded the continuing success of Mason’s China 1+2+1 program, and called its students and graduates cultural ambassadors.

Mason’s China 1+2+1 undergraduate program is part of the Sino-American 1+2+1 Dual Degree Program which includes 20 universities in the United States and 89 in China. Students earn dual degrees from a U.S. institution and from a Chinese institution. Mason’s program is welcoming its 10th cohort this fall, and has produced 214 graduates who’ve succeeded academically and helped bridge global gaps.

One of the panelists, alumnus Haoxiao Yu, earned bachelor’s degrees in economics from Mason and Shandong University in Weihai, China in 2012. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University. Now she’s an analyst at Promontory Financial Group, LLC in nearby Washington, D.C.

China 1+2+1 program alumni share stories of Mason and beyond. From left: Shimeng Zhang, Yichi Xu, and Haoxiao Yu. Photo by Youjin Zhang.

China 1+2+1 program alumni share stories of Mason and beyond. From left: Shimeng Zhang, Yichi Xu, and Haoxiao Yu. Photo by Youjin Zhang.

“Take advantage of Mason’s proximity to D.C. to enrich your experiences,” she advised the audience. “Do volunteer work, attend seminars, find internships. D.C. is full of resources! Try to jump out of your comfort zone and be open to the unknowns.”

Also on the panel was Yichi Xu, who also works as an analyst at Promontory. He earned finance undergraduate degrees from Mason and Soochow University in Suzhou, China, in 2012, and obtained a master’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Georgetown University. Xu said his experience at Mason had a “profound impact on my success in graduate school application and job hunting. Mason and the School of Business molded me into a person who is conscientious, passionate and professional.”

The event was a special homecoming for panelist Shimeng Zhang, who also met her fiancé at Mason. “This program is like a big family, and I am so happy to meet old friends,” said Zhang, who earned bachelor’s degrees in economics from Mason and Communication University of China in Beijing in 2011. She went on to study mathematics and statistics at Georgetown and is now working at KPMG in Northern Virginia.

The event, conducted mostly in Chinese, made an impression on current students and other alumni in the audience. Kaixuan Wang, a sophomore in finance from Huaqiao University, has just started his Mason journey but has not determined a career path. Wang said he found guidance at the event. “The alumni provided me with a lot of reference in how I should make my own decisions,” he said.

President Ángel Cabrera delivers opening remarks at the China 1+2+1 alumni reunion panel. Photo by Youjin Zhang.

President Ángel Cabrera delivers opening remarks at the China 1+2+1 alumni reunion panel. Photo by Youjin Zhang.

Yang Tang, a junior majoring in global affairs who’s thinking about applying to graduate schools, said she found she shared similar backgrounds with the panelists, and that their advice hit home. “Their valuable suggestions and lasting friendship are crucial to my future,” she said.

Madelyn Ross, director of China Initiatives in Global Strategy, is encouraging more China 1+2+1 alumni in the United States to return to Mason to inspire the next cohorts, and those who’ve returned to China to take part in the China-based activities of the Mason Alumni Club of China.

“We’ve tried to build a sense of community with graduates that will last long after they leave Mason,” Ross said.

Original article posted on Mason NewsDesk

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