Each month we choose a student for the OISS Student of the Month that exemplifies and highlights everything it means to not only be a Spartan but an international Spartan. We choose these students based on their accomplishments and their participation in the community. For the month of April, OISS chose: Zimo Wang.
Zimo is from the city of Beijing, the capital of China. The city is located in the northeast corner of China and situated near the Bohai Sea. Home to over 21.7 million people, not only is Beijing the third largest city in China, but the third largest city in the world as well.
For many students, studying abroad can be a daunting challenge that makes it difficult to succeed in school or find one’s niche. Not for Zimo. From a young age, she has always strived to push her academic career to the limits of her capabilities.
Since middle school, Zimo knew that she wanted to study abroad. After years of trying to convince her parents of the benefits and the determination she had to get an international education, her parents finally relented. So, after the second year of high school, she prepared herself to finish her high school education in the US. After going through the initial screening process, Zimo was paired with a host family living in Texas. From there she spent half a year in Texas adapting to US culture. Then to finish off her high school year, she was paired with another family living in Utah. She spent her final year of high school living in Utah.
Zimo, wanting to take advantage of the educational opportunities that presented themselves while in the US, was adamant about attending an American university. Back in China she had heard so many stories of Chinese students studying abroad and getting such a unique academic experience that the opportunity was just too good to let it slip. Thanks to having such positive experiences in Texas and Utah, Zimo could not imagine studying anywhere else.
Set on attending an American university, Zimo wanted to experience as many different parts of the US as possible. Therefore, she wanted to move away from the west of the US and looked more east when choosing schools. The strong desire to be at a nationally ranked university was also a key part in her decision on what school to go to. Michigan State offered Zimo everything she wanted out of an American university. Nationally and globally ranked programs with a world-class campus made it an enticing option for her. What further solidified her decision was how culturally different Michigan was from Texas and Utah. That would make sure she would get a full perspective on the different norms in different regions of the US.
Zimo had one major interest coming into her first year. From an early age, Zimo was interested in journalism. She had always been fascinated with the communication aspect of the field. Being on the ground and interacting with people was what really drew her to the field. With journalism, Zimo would go on to describe the different exciting ways one could use media platforms and strategies to get personal stories. These stories were where the real news was found. She loved hearing from people about what was going on with their lives and what mattered most to them.
However, despite the strong passion she had for journalism, she had reservations about joining the program at MSU. Her largest concern was the language barrier. While Zimo had gotten a lot of exposure to English through her time in high school, the intimidation factor was still there. She had an incredibly strong passion for journalism, but she realized that in order to get the most out of the degree she needed to be able to communicate effectively with the people she engaged with.
Despite the challenges of time management and it being her first year on campus, she would soon find her groove. Zimo got settled in rather quickly. Not wanting to waste a moment of her time at MSU, during her first year she founded a club, China Fusion. The club was first spurred on from what Zimo noticed as a lack of any Chinese clubs on campus promoting traditional Chinese culture. Therefore, Zimo and a few friends came up with the idea to start an art troupe that would give campus more exposure to traditional Chinese music. In order to attract more people into the club, Zimo wanted to blend in elements from modern music while retaining the core foundations of the traditional music she had listened and practiced back in China.
Leading China Fusion was an incredible experience for her. It has allowed her to meet so many people that are interested in music and to create so many different infusions of musical styles when the club conducts performances. With many people wanting to join China Fusion, Zimo has gained a plethora of new skills that she can use later in life. As former president of the club, she has gained valuable experience in time management and task delegation. These skills will be invaluable to her as she carries on to whatever career path life takes her. Not only has she gained all these new leadership skills, the club also gives her an opportunity to practice the music she is passionate about. Zimo
plays the pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument. The pipa is a stringed instrument that is plucked, similar to the guitar or sitar. Thanks to China Fusion, Zimo has been able to highlight her musical talents to a much wider audience.
Starting a club on campus and becoming more accommodated to the hectic nature of college life had made Zimo comfortable enough to try to go see if she could find success with her passion. One of the main concerns she had was the feasibility of graduating on time. However, due to the overall structure of the journalism major and with a discussion with her advisor, Zimo found out that she could easily finish her degree while still only spending four years at MSU.
The switch paid off for her, opening her up to new opportunities around campus and East Lansing. One of the things that surprised her the most of East Lansing was the amount of diversity in and around campus. Pursuing a career in journalism gave her the chance to get more exposure to the diverse number of people around campus. Spurring on new opportunities, this past summer she had the opportunity to job shadow with HOMTV as well as received an offer for a paid position working for the State News. The State News is a student run newspaper of MSU. Boasting a large readership, the State News has also been praised as one of the best college newspapers in the country. The language barrier proved to be daunting at first but Zimo quickly found her own niche as a reporter for the State News. Being an international student has proven to be incredibly valuable as few international students work for the State News. Zimo has helped spur on a variety of new stories with a unique perspective on events happening on campus and the surrounding area.
When Zimo is not busy working on her classes or the latest story for the State News, she enjoys practicing music with her pipa. Other than music, Zimo loves spending time on focusing on herself. She reads non-fiction books quite often.
I asked Zimo if she had any advice for new international students at MSU. She was firm and succinct with her advice. She explained to me that for the entirety of her time at MSU she has always tried her hardest to do the things she wants to do. Further telling me a piece of advice she always lives by,
“You can’t win if you don’t play.”
Since she was given that advice she has tried to live her life by those words. Therefore, she encourages any new international students to push themselves into unfamiliar territory. Do not let opportunity pass you by and remain focused to always try to be the best version of yourself. Living life by these words has done wonders for the opportunities Zimo has received and she hopes new international students can find the success she has.
We wrapped up our interview by discussing a few post-graduation plans she has. Zimo has plans to come back and spend the summer in East Lansing as she pursues her career in journalism. While she focuses on that she also plans on continuing to work for the Michigan Supreme Court as a Communications Intern, where she began interning at the beginning of the Spring semester. It’s been an amazing experience for her that she is immensely proud to have. Wherever Zimo’s career takes her I know for certain that she will find success.
As this year comes to a close, I would like to dedicate this section to explaining what an absolute joy it has been writing these articles. Over the past year, I have gotten the privilege to interview some truly amazing international students. Students like Zimo are what make Michigan State an amazing place to study at. I hope my articles have inspired other international students to reach out of their comfort zones and achieve the potential that they have within them. Hearing from these incredible people have inspired me to push myself out of my comfort zone and get entirely new experiences I could have never dreamt of.
Tyler Perl is currently a senior majoring in International Relations. He will be graduating in May 2019 with his degree in IR. He also is minoring in Political Economy. Tyler plans after graduation to work in economic policy in Washington DC.