After researching study abroad programs, I realized the Boren Awards best aligned with my goals and needs. I decided to study in China, as it is imperative for the U.S. to have Americans who can speak the language, understand the culture, and effectively do business with the Chinese. For an international business major, Shanghai is an ideal place to study because of its amplified role in finance and banking and as a major destination for corporate headquarters, all of which stimulates demand for a highly educated and modernized workforce.
While in Shanghai, I took courses in business, Chinese history, and international relations, as well as upper division Mandarin courses which helped me substantially in reading characters. I participated in service events with local orphanages, taught English, and traveled substantially to various regions within China, from Shanghai to Kashgar. One amazing experience was participating in the Listening Conference at the famous Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai. Pepperdine students were partnered with students at Fudan University to discuss differences in culture, as well as Sino-US relations.
To enhance my experience overseas, I interned with Etrilum, an LED firm in Shanghai. Throughout my internship, I implemented marketing strategies through the use of social media, developed a remuneration plan fostering a performance based pay culture, and tested various platforms for a new e-commerce site. My internship taught me that China is becoming more powerful every year, despite the effects of the global financial crisis, surpassing Japan as the world’s second largest economy. As a result, China has grown more assertive in pressing its economic interests.
For my service requirement, I hope to pursue a career in diplomacy or the intelligence community. These positions play a critical role in developing and implementing US foreign and national policy and help to protect US interests abroad.
My advice to future applicants is to try to venture off the beaten track and to immerse yourself in whatever area you are in. Try not to limit yourself, practice the language as much as you can, and make local friends, for they will help you tremendously to acquire proficiency. Also, find a language intensive program that bans the use of English. Above all, enjoy your time, take in every experience, and keep an open mind. Remember that the Boren Scholarship is making a huge investment in you, so make sure the goals of the program align with your passions and aspirations for the future.