Jialun Zhang understands how international students feel when they arrive on campus — that’s why she’s dedicated herself to making the transition less overwhelming.
“When I first arrived on campus, I was walking with two huge pieces of luggage toward the University Center. At that time, a lady stopped her car and offered to help me with my luggage,” she said.
It was this single experience that inspired her to give back to the Chinese student community.
“In addition to the outstanding academic achievements, her most noticeable contribution at UM-Dearborn is her enthusiastic and strong leadership in student activities to enhance student life on campus,” said Professor Yubao Chen. “Soon after arriving [at UM-Dearborn], she became a very active member of the Chinese Student and Scholar Association.”
Under Zhang’s leadership, the organization planned several events to raise awareness about Chinese culture. This included the Chinese New Year Gala, for which she collaborated with four neighboring universities to plan one of the largest student-led events in the local community. It wasn’t just about a celebration though. For Zhang, it was more important to share cultural experiences with students. “The communication between different cultures is the most important part of the event,” she said.
In addition to her involvement with CSSA, the graduate student also maintained a 3.9 cumulative GPA. The near-perfect academic marks paired with her on-campus engagement helped her secure an internship working in data analytics. “My goal is to become a successful and professional data scientist and contribute back to our community,” she said.
What’s been her most defining moment at UM-Dearborn? She’d say her very first day on campus. “The kindness of that lady is my most defining moment here at UM-Dearborn. I felt very proud to get my education here.”