Hello, my name is Alex Hickman and I am currently an MBA candidate at Southwest University in Chongqing, China. I have been living in China for almost three years now, all three of which have been the most rewarding and opportunity-filled years of my life.
I came to China originally in the Spring of 2013 on a work contract as an English teacher at Guizhou University, located in southwestern China. During my time as a teacher, I was able to prepare for several tests which helped me to be accepted as a graduate student at Southwest University. The reason I was able to find work in China in the first place was because of opportunities facilitated by my alma mater, West Chester University.
During my undergraduate studies at West Chester University, I was able to travel to Guizhou University twice as an exchange student, once in the winter of 2010, and once in the summer of 2011.
The time I spent at Guizhou University was alluring because I was able to use and expand on the skills and information I had first learned at West Chester University. Going into college as a freshman in 2009, I had nearly no idea of my future or direction.
I was fortunate enough to find excellent professors who helped to guide my passions into academic and professional pursuits. I had chosen International Relations as my major coming into West Chester University, and I was greeted well by the then-head of the department, Dr. Peter Loedel. Dr. Loedel had given me many opportunities, the first of which was in welcoming foreign exchange students from Shanghai to our university. Because of my well prepared presentation, the Honors College director, Dr. Kevin Dean had noted my academic strength, and invited me to apply to the university’s Honors College. As an Honors College student, above all, I was able to develop a strong academic mind geared toward leadership through example and service.
As an International Relations student, each student is required to take a foreign language. I had a solid background in Spanish, having taken four years of Spanish in high school, but my advisor and other professors challenged me to take the new Mandarin Chinese program started only one year previously by the Foreign Language Department. My Chinese professor, Dr. Jie Cai, was without a doubt one of the most compassionate and patient professors I had ever met. From the first class, only able to eek out a “ni hao” (hello in Mandarin), to my last project presentation three years later, she had not only helped me in my language study, but also grow as an individual under her guidance.
As a student taking Mandarin Chinese, I had sought for other classes which could relate to my language interest. Dr. Cecilia Chien and Dr. Frank Hoffman of the History and Philosophy colleges respectfully helped to facilitate my interest for Chinese and other East Asian history, politics, philosophy, and economies. I feel extremely lucky and proud to call myself a West Chester University Alumnus and would recommend the university to anyone looking for the right path in life. The relationships I made, the opportunities which were available to me, and the academic direction of my professors are truly all invaluable, and have set me up with the skills and knowledge needed for a bright and unique future.