Zidong Li

2013 The Scholar


What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

That popular quote has a special meaning for Zidong Li.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn graduate student emigrated from China and admits the transition to a new culture was difficult, at times. But those hardships motivated Zidong to improve his situation.

It also inspired Zidong to expand campus relationships with international students. That determination and work ethic earned him the title of “Difference Maker.”

“Every time, when I see the Chinese elements on campus, I am always thrilled,” said Zidong, who is studying mechanical engineering. “I really want to promote the Chinese culture and let Americans know Chinese people better.”

One way to make an impact on the international student community is through campus involvement, and Zidong certainly has that element locked down.

He serves as president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at UM-Dearborn, where he helped organize the 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration.

But Zidong’s involvement doesn’t stop there. He also serves as a board member of the North American Chinese Society of Automotive Engineers, where he received the Outstanding Contribution Award.

“I have more responsibility, including the inner affairs and outer promoting work around all the Chinese students in North America,” he said.

Yubao Chen, director of China programs in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, is well aware of Zidong's impact at UM-Dearborn.

“I have known him ever since he arrived at UM-Dearborn and witnessed his outstanding performance in and out of the classroom, and significant contribution to the better student life on campus,” Chen said. “Other than outstanding academic achievements, his most noticeable contribution at UM-Dearborn is his enthusiastic and strong leadership in student activities to enhance student life on campus. With his excellent academic achievements, outstanding leadership skills and enthusiastic spirit, I have no doubt that Zidong will be one of tomorrow’s leaders from UM-Dearborn.”

Zidong plans to graduate next December, but that won’t mark his final commencement ceremony. He plans to pursue a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering, which he hopes will further his mission to promote collaboration between the U.S. and China.