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college students in Bordeaux in the 60s

Alumni Profiles

All UCEAP alumni agree that studying abroad is a transformative experience. UCEAP alumni are leaders in the fields of language and culture, international education, politics and more.  Read interviews with alumni and learn about their lives before, during and after UCEAP.


Alumni Profiles
UCEAP Alumni: Stories from Beijing

Addison Yang (UCLA)  first came to China in 2015, where he spent a year participating in the Beijing Normal University and Peking University programs.

 As he puts it, “I really wanted to get some firsthand experience in a country that I have never been to before, and I chose China because U.S.-China relations at the time were moving in an interesting direction.”

During his study abroad experience, Addison interned at a think tank, the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, where he familiarized himself with China’s relations with the rest of the world. He also discovered a thriving social sector in Beijing and decided to stay and learn more about it. “Philanthropy is still really young in China, so there is a lot of room for innovation and for innovative new models of philanthropy to arise and meet social needs”, he said. Addison currently works at a social enterprise called Philanthropy in Motion, which empowers millennials with the funding, training, and networks to become mission-driven leaders and amplify their social impact. 

A lot of expats from US and other countries are doing interesting things in Beijing. Addison chose to stay mainly because of career development. “Beijing can be a bit of a small town for expats, and there are a lot of unique opportunities here to do things and engage with certain roles that you can’t get elsewhere. ” He added, “This is my first real professional experience. By starting in China, I am doing what I would have been doing back in the States, but getting the additional benefit of cultivating a unique regional expertise that might prove useful in the future.”  

“Additionally, there is certain level of challenge to living in Beijing that you don’t encounter in US. Being here toughens you, in a sense, and teaches you how to roll with the punches. From learning how to navigate a different online environment to figuring out which hole-in-the-wall restaurants are legitimately unsafe for human consumption, Beijing often has valuable life skills and experiences waiting around each corner. Moreover, as China begins to export some innovative, indigenous trends (e.g. Ofo/Mobike, WeChat), there may be a lot of China-specific experiences that will be immediately relevant to life again in the U.S.”

Addison also remarked that, in Beijing, people have an opportunity to immerse themselves in a foreign culture and develop a new understanding of themselves. “This is a real investment in better understanding China and your own background as well. I didn’t truly understand how American I was in my values, beliefs, and perspectives until I left the U.S. cultural sphere and saw it filtered through the lens of my China experience.”

When Andy Zhang (UC Berkeley) went on UCEAP in 2010, it has been ten years since his last visit to Beijing. “My time with UCEAP probably was the definite highlight in my life. I obtained a lot of practical experience,” Andy recalled. That experience helped make it possible for Andy to run his own company, CampusPM, which helps both educational institutes and non-educational companies engage with different parties in the educational sectors of Beijing. His biggest project is running the Center for Youth Business Facilities, working with the Chinese version of IKEA and encouraging entrepreneurship in high school students and angel investment opportunities for university students.

“Beijing is a mix of traditional Chinese culture versus modern vibrancy, especially for young professionals. There is a plethora of opportunities that you wouldn’t find anywhere else, and I would say Beijing is surprisingly expat-friendly.” When it comes to the internships in Beijing, Andy says there are many attractive opportunities for foreign students, especially in international business. While it can be harder to get your foot in the door at some of the larger companies, Andy advises that students “shouldn’t just go for a company because its name is recognizable, but rather go for…the skills [and the] the experience.”

In terms of the job market in Beijing, Andy says, “While Beijing can be an extremely daunting place to start off your career due to visa restrictions, it is definitely the place you really need to be if you want to do something meaningful. This is literally the capital of the world; it impacts not just the one billion people living in this country but all the 70 other countries whose economies are intertwined. Decisions here can create tremendous ripple effects.”

When DeVante Allen (UC Berkeley) arrived in China for his summer PKU program in 2012, it was the first time had ever left the United States. A Linguistics and Chinese major, DeVante wanted to know what China is really like and had interests in exploring the traditional culture, so he chose to immerse himself into the most traditional area, Beijing. The Beijing experience has brought DeVante “more than I could imagine…every single day was amazing!”

After DeVante went back to the US, he worked at UC Berkeley Study Abroad Office for two years, using his experiences to encourage other students to study abroad. Once he graduated, DeVante was eager to return to China. “All my friends went to big companies in California, but I want to do something else in the opposite side of the world.” Through contacts he made studying abroad, DeVante started his English teaching career at BNU.

Now back in the United States to pursue a graduate program in Clinical Psychology and Education at Columbia University, DeVante’s two years of teaching experience helped him better understand what role he could play in encouraging others. “For me, teaching at the university was my way of seeing how education can change lives of my students.”

Elaine Poon (UCLA) was born in Hong Kong and grew up in California, and seized the opportunity to experience life in mainland China by participating in the UCEAP Shanghai
program in 2014.

Currently Elaine is working at Beijing in an Educational Consultant company called Elites Scholars of China, helping local students apply for top universities in the US. After almost a year of working in Beijing, she said “I enjoy the atmosphere and the food very much. Beijing is such a big place, but at the same time you can still find connections with people.” She said her current position is helping her shape the direction of her future career. As a Business and Economics major with interests in the education field, her job in Beijing “is very helpful to test the waters” of future opportunities.

Elmer Chen (UCSD) used his final year at UCSD to complete the UCEAP program at Peking University in order “to make it easier to transfer to a fulltime position here in a professional capacity.”

After PKU, he started working at a luxury travel company in Beijing, working in marketing, branding and sales, before transitioning to a public relations position with an international firm based in Beijing.  Elmer enjoys embracing the unfamiliar things in life, so he chose to study at Beijing instead of Taiwan, where his parents’ hometown is. “If you want to learn more about China’s traditional culture, history and proper Mandarin pronunciation, Beijing is definitely the main place for that. If you want to learn more about China, there is no place better than Beijing.”

Elmer got a business visa when he started working, but later shifted to a work visa. “Now it’s a lot easier to get work visas after studying…the government implemented some new policies. “ After working in Beijing, Elmer said the city “gave me the sense that it’s very diverse in terms of community and the different industries. If you work in the States fresh out of graduation for the first one or two years, you are going to be doing stuff that might not necessarily feel really impactful. You just do some basic stuff. In China, the companies give new staff real responsibility pretty early on.”

Elmer will do an MBA at New York University starting this fall, where he plans to focus on management technology and operations as well as social innovation and impact. In the future, he wants to work in a consulting firm as a strategy consultant. “My time in Beijing really opened my eyes to how people are using the technologies in different places.”



UC Alumni Celebrate 50 Years of Exchange with Sweden

Last month UCEAP traveled to Sweden to celebrate our 50 year anniversary of student exchange with Lund University. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends joined us for three days of events in commemoration of our historic partnership. Check out our photo album here.

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Alumni Update: Kathleen Adams, France 1977-78

An alumna of the UCEAP program at the University of Poitiers, Dr. Kathleen Adams credits her year abroad with inspiring her to become a cultural anthropologist. Now a professor at Loyola University Chicago, Dr. Adams shares her continued passion for international education in her alumni story.

How did study abroad affect your life choices?

My year in France had a deep impact on me. It greatly enhanced my self-confidence and gave me a thirst for the excitement and growth that happens when living in a foreign (or semi-foreign) culture. Having a French mother also meant that the year enabled me to get in touch with a part of my heritage that I did not fully appreciate prior to my time in France. 

Tell us the highlights of your professional career. What are your proudest achievements?

I have had the pleasure of teaching American students studying abroad in Rome, Italy, for the 2008-09 academic year, and have taught on the University of Virginia's Semester at Sea program numerous times. I have also been fortunate to have spent time as a visiting professor at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines and at Al-Farebi Kazakh National University in Kazakhstan. All of these experiences can be traced back to the seeds that were planted during the year I participated in the University of California Education Abroad Program in France.

If you were to give advice to current UCEAP students, what would you say?

Select a café or bakery and frequent it daily, becoming a part of the rhythm of community life. You never know what delightful surprises this approach will yield. For me, daily purchases at the corner bakery resulted in a friendship with the proprietors, an older couple, who invited me to their home and even offered me a bakery apprenticeship, giving me a different, non-student perspective on life in a smaller French city. Stretch yourself and take classes you would not normally take. The French friends I met in classes I would not normally take became lifelong friends.  Our children have spent happy time together singing Breton songs and riding ponies at one friend's organic farm in Brittany...something I never could have imagined all those years ago.

Do you have a wonderful memory from your time abroad with UCEAP? We would love to hear from you. Fill out our Alumni Questionnaire to share your story and win a UCEAP t-shirt.

 

 



UCSB Student Wins Riding Competition in Bordeaux

UCEAP student Leesan Kwok, who is studying in Bordeaux for the year, won the level 3 division of the hunter category at the Championnat Régionale of Gironde, a major horse show, on March 5, 2017.  

Competitors are judged on horse and rider presentation, showmanship, horsemanship, and position. Leesan, who has been riding for 15 years, found a barn near her home in Bordeaux that enabled her to continue riding much more affordably than in the U.S. Leesan said, “I’ve been learning most of my French lingo and vocab from hanging around the barn. Although I’m still not fluent, I have noticeably improved my understanding of the language through consistent exposure. Now I can take a full riding lesson of 1.5 hours in French!”  Congratulations,  Leesan!



News & Events

Read the latest UCEAP news and learn about upcoming events happening near you!


Alumni News
UK Gala Supports UCEAP Scholarships

This April, UC Alumni in the UK held their second annual charity gala, at the Law Society in London.

 

Over 80 attendees from 8 UC campuses gathered for a wonderful evening of networking, feasting, speeches and dancing, all for a good cause.  UCEAP Promise Award recipient Karly Graf (UCB 2016-2017), a featured speaker, studied at the London School of Economics and graduated in June with a BA in Political Economy and a minor in Environmental Policy Management. Karly spoke about her experiences abroad, the challenges of being away from home, and what to do after graduation. Through the silent auction, raffle prize-draw, and pledges, over $17,000 was raised to support study abroad scholarships for UCEAP students! Thank you to UC Alumni UK for your continued support of UCEAP students. 



2017 UCEAP Distinguished Alumni Awards

UCEAP is proud to announce Julie Osborn (Costa Rica 1991) as the 2017 recipient of the Linda Duttenhaver Distinguished Alumni Award, and Jeremy Hessler (United Kingdom 2005-2006) as the 2017 recipient of the UCEAP Emerging Leader Award.

 

Both alumni were honored at the annual UCEAP Alumni Awards Dinner on Thursday, June 22, held at UC Santa Barbara.Julie is the co-founder of Ecology Project International, an education non-profit that empowers youth to take an active role in conservation through hands-on field science. The program engages both local and international high school students, who come together to work collaboratively. More than 30,000 students across five countries have participated in EPI’s science and conservation programs. Julie participated in the Tropical Biology & Conservation program at the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica, and graduated from UC Santa Barbara.Jeremy is a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, representing the United States in environmental law cases that involve endangered species and other wildlife. He also counsels federal agencies on how to best comply with environmental statutes in carrying out their missions. Jeremy studied at the Queen Mary, University of London in the United Kingdom, and graduated from UC Riverside.Julie and Jeremy both gave acceptance speeches, and shared lessons from their time abroad. Check out pictures from the event here. Congratulations to Julie and Jeremy for their outstanding contributions to their respective career fields, and for being leaders and great examples for current and future UCEAP students!



Peace Corps Mentor Program

Did you join the Peace Corps after college? We want to hear from you. UCEAP is looking for alumni who are willing to be a mentor to UC students interested in the Peace Corps. Send an email to alumni@eap.ucop.edu today!



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