Many individuals speak of their time attending university as being their formative years. Coming from China, Yingjun Chen, MS Management ’18, not only grew as a business graduate student, but she also had to adjust to an entirely new country and culture. While it was undoubtedly an arduous transition, the George Mason University School of Business provided the resources and people to support her growth. Now as an alumna, Chen is there for international prospective students as they prepare to make the same leap.
Starting at the university through INTO Mason, a venture focused on expanding higher education opportunities for students around the world, Chen received guidance on how to adjust to daily life in the United States—her top concern. She received additional support from Kimberly Blue, graduate career manager at the School of Business’s career services, who would prove to be especially pivotal in Chen’s success.
Following her graduation from Mason, Chen began working at the Walnut Bond Company as an alumni representative. She had been referred to the company by a previous supervisor at an internship she secured through a Mason business networking event. Situated on Mason’s Fairfax campus, the Walnut Bond Company specializes in education consulting and providing advisors and resources to incoming students from China, Vietnam, and Japan. In her role, Chen offers guidance to these students and their families who face the same challenges that she did. “Parents want the best for their kids, whether it be classes, extracurriculars, or daily life activities, but they don’t know where to start,” she says. One of the more recent projects Chen helped to put together was a panel of experts in support of the International Day of the Girl. They were inspired to establish the panel after putting on a successful online charity concert a few months earlier. “It was important for us to show girls how they can contribute to society,” she says. “We were fortunate to be able to get the panel of women who have been role models to me.” Through the event, they received donations to charities serving priority areas for young women.
While Chen was able to get tremendous value out of Mason resources as a student, she witnessed how many of her international peers were unaware of those opportunities. “Many of these students don’t realize what’s available to them or how to connect with them,” she says. “I would like to see the cohorts pay closer attention and communicate with each other.” The means are there. Now Chen wants to make sure they are utilized.
Yingjun Chen has a lot to be proud of, knowing that the road for her was never easy. “I worked many different jobs while in school, including three internships simultaneously,” she says. “But the experience was invaluable, and I learned what I was truly passionate about.” As her career is just getting started, she knows that one of those passions is helping others navigate their own ways through the obstacles of higher education in a different country. “I am such a proud alumna, and I am grateful to share my experiences at Mason.” Chen’s excitement to help others will fuel other international students to succeed at the School of Business, a school that finds strength in its diversity.