Every year Spartan alumni come back to East Lansing to celebrate Homecoming. It is during this time that Spartans, both old and young, come together to celebrate the achievements and attributes that make our Spartan community strong and vibrant. As part of Homecoming, there are ten to twelve students chosen to be on the Homecoming court.

The Homecoming court represents the student body of MSU during the Homecoming parade as well as other events that occur throughout campus during the week leading up to the Homecoming game. These students were chosen because they highlight the best of the Spartan community. This year’s theme for Homecoming is Uniquely Spartan.

Giveaway Logo

In order to be chosen the candidates had to demonstrate participation in the community as well as excellence in the classroom. Two students on this year’s Homecoming court are international students, Yixi Dong and Shuning Liu. These students also exemplify and have the qualifications for the Office for International Students and Scholars Student of the Month.


(Left: Shuning Liu;    Middle: MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon;    Right:Yixi Dong)


These are both of Yixi’s and Shuning’s stories:

Yixi Dong is originally from Mianyang City, which is the second largest city in Sichuan province, China. This made it quite a change when she decided to move to East Lansing five years ago. The differences that she cites as the most notable is the way in which people talk to one another, and the cultural differences in the way people interact. Yixi comes from a place where the people are more community-based and are willing to help regardless of whether you want that help or not and observes from Americans that we are largely independent and will ask for help if needed. However, Yixi places a lot of emphasis on how the similarities between people of different cultures are more important than the differences.

Once at MSU, Yixi found that Michigan State provides a wide variety of resources to students, and is always trying to lend a helping hand. Yixi has seen a drastic change, for the better, in the five years she has been here at MSU. Citing the newly offered counseling services that OISS is going to be providing, as well as the way orientation is structured to allow for more group time.

Yixi has also been very involved on campus. She is currently a member of Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC), whose goal is to promote student health through different events throughout the school year and is heavily involved with Mental Health Awareness Month. Yixi has also been a Research Assistant, group leader at IAOP, and an Intercultural Aide (ICA) in Hubbard Hall. Out of all of her experiences at MSU, Yixi believes that the greatest experience she has had has been as an ICA. Being able to interact with a wide range and diverse group of people gave her the opportunity to learn about social issues, interact with people different than herself, develop important communication skills, and is where she learned to celebrate similarities between people rather than their differences. The ICA position is where Yixi has made good friends and has developed a support system, something that she says is very important, not only for domestic students but also international students.


(East Neighborhood Intercultural Aides)


When asked about advice she would give to International students Yixi responded: “Go out of your comfort zone, try new things, and make an effort to make American friends.” However, Yixi is aware that it is easier to say this than actually do it. But Yixi lives by this idea, and is always challenging herself to try new things and push outside of her own comfort zone and lives by the phrase: “feel comfortable about being uncomfortable.” This mantra can be seen in the hobbies and activities that she enjoys. Yixi loves to hike, fish, paint and to travel- having gone to New York, California, Texas, Mexico, and Washington.

As for Yixi’s plans for after she graduates: she plans on taking the Registered Nurse Exam and find a position as a nurse. The ideal scenario for her would be to move to Seattle and practice nursing but, as you may already have guessed, Yixi is open to anything that will allow to her help others and try new things.

Shuning Liu is our second recipient of Student of the Month:

Not many people who I have met in my 20 years of living in Michigan avow that they love the winter. Shuning, however, is not like anyone that I have met. Originally from Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in Southwest China, Shuning says that one of her favorite things about Michigan is the winter. Growing up in Guiyang the temperature never went below freezing so it rarely ever snowed, and rarely did the seasons drastically change. That is what Shuning also says is her favorite thing about Michigan is that we have four distinct seasons, and as someone who likes photography all four seasons are a great time to take pictures of nature.

IMG78Shuning came to MSU about three years ago and is now a senior studying Applied Engineering Sciences with a concentration in Supply Chain. When asked why that major, she replied: “I love math, science and physics, but I don’t plan on going into something purely technical. I want to find a balance between technical work and business.” That was the balance that Shuning hoped to find at her internship in China this past summer, but she found that while she enjoys her studies the work involved isn’t as creatively stimulating in the field.

Instead, Shuning finds that her skills are put to greater use in planning and holding events. She finds an outlet through the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association (CUSA), an organization that she is the President of. Shuning talks passionately about organizing the Spring Festival Gala that the club holds every year to celebrate Chinese New Year. Shuning hopes to find a job in event planning, but like most college students, she is looking for a job in her field of study. Currently studying for the GRE and searching for a job for after graduation, Shuning is hopeful that she will be able to stay in Michigan.

Advice that Shuning would give to not only international students but to domestic students as well is: “Enjoy your time here at MSU.” She says this with a realization that she may be leaving MSU within the next year and that if she were to leave, coming back and visiting would be hard to do. This being said, Shuning is determined to enjoy her time and do what she can to make the most of it, whether that is being apart of Project Explore, a committee within OISS that talks about issues facing the Chinese community on campus, or watching movies and eating good food. Shuning is determined to squeeze every last minute she has out of MSU.

Next week is the MSU Homecoming week. Check out all the Homecoming events, including the must-go Homecoming Parade where Yixi and Shuning will be present and represent MSU and especially international students.

About the author

mitchMitchell Timmerman is currently a senior majoring in both Social Relations and Policy, as well as Economics. He will be graduating in May of 2018 with his degree in SRP, and again in December of 2018 with his degree in Economics. Mitchell plans after graduation include working in Economic Development as well as continuing to write for his blog