My William & Mary Education in Life after College

My family vacation to China brought my William & Mary education into focus in a pleasant and unexpected way. When I left, the last thing on my mind was my alma mater, quite frankly. I had just graduated, and while I cannot speak for my peers, those four years certainly did catch up to me. By the semester’s end, I was operating on overdrive to the point of exhaustion, and my body was aching for rest. I envisioned spending time back at my family’s home in Long Island, reading a good book, relaxing, and chatting with friends over the phone.

At first glance, the trip to China, however, was not exactly the kind of vacation I was hoping for. For my parents, this was a rare chance to reconnect with the rest of my extended family whom they had left behind when they immigrated to this country almost over twenty years ago. My sister and I were no better than tourists, something which had led to familial tensions over the years. Earlier on, our cultural ignorance was a source of embarrassment for my parents, who were ashamed that my sister and myself could not speak their native language. We were haunted by it growing up in America, but it was especially apparent in our short stay in my parent’s native country.

This year, my trip to China was different. Though my Mandarin improved only slightly, I was able to recuperate while spending time with family, learning more about my extended family’s past and a small bit of current affairs. I credit a large part of this year’s experience to my self-designed Asian American Studies major. It allowed me to appreciate my heritage to a greater extent, while in the past it served primarily as a source of my frustrations. William & Mary gave me an opportunity through my self-designed major to combine my personal experiences within the well-rounded world of academia, particularly through courses that explored the fluidity of identity and exposed me to narratives of various issues confronted by second generation Asian Americans. Reading about other similar experiences put my own racial identity issues into perspective.  I learned how my heritage is seen as a positive, and how not to not dwell on my differences with others.

I could not help but reflect on my William & Mary years and feel anything other than gratitude. My experience during those 10 days showed me the benefits of how a William & Mary education prepares students for the real world. I came to realize and appreciate that a William & Mary degree goes above and beyond just academics and classroom learning. The skills learned can be applied to the real world, whether for a job, internship, or even a brief trip to the homeland of my ancestors. My William & Mary education went beyond what’s expected. We demand that higher education prepare us for the certain. I can personally attest to how William & Mary’s well-rounded liberal arts curriculum went above and beyond expectations and shaped my personal experiences. You can expect your William & Mary education to go beyond just a piece of paper.

Categories: Academics, Alumni Blogs

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