Jian “MJ” Mao, Education Studies and International Studies

Jian “MJ” MaoWhat brought you to UW–Madison? 

First, the excellent quality of education at UW–Madison. Second, coming from a bustling city of more than 25 million people in Shanghai and then spending two years in Honolulu on the tiny island of Oahu, Madison felt like the right place with just enough vibe of a city but without the crowds. Also, the lakes were a good substitute for the Pacific ocean.

How did you choose your major?

I was not certain about what I wanted to study at the very beginning, and the choices in my mind were interior design or business. Second semester, I enrolled in an education policy class to fulfill a general requirement, and I ended up loving it. Being an international student with my unique cross-cultural educational experience in both China and America, I have always hoped to explore the concepts and disciplines of global education, relate that to my own experience, and understand its educational and social context linking to the larger world. 

I went to meet with my advisor, Becky Smith, and she suggested I major in Education Studies. So I am actually a dual-degree candidate in Education Studies with a focus on global education and in International Studies with a focus on culture in the age of globalization. The School of Education’s national and international reputation, along with its extensive alumni connections, sets a solid foundation for future job searching.  

What will you be focusing on during fall semester? 

To me, the main focus for fall semester is to stay healthy, which I believe is a priority for many others in the entire world. With the ongoing pandemic, I think the best I can do is to stay positive and make the best out of it. Four out of five of my classes are online in the fall semester, but I am confident that I will still learn just as much and make great connections with my peers and professors. 

What are your hobbies or interests outside of classes?

Since I am a student-athlete, I do not have much time to do things other than studying and swimming on weekdays during my season. Sometimes, my weekends are also occupied by our home or away competitions. On an average day, I spend about four hours training either in the pool or gym and in between these sessions, I run around campus to catch my classes, discussion groups, or doing my homework at various facilities. 

But whenever I have some free time, I often hang out with friends and do a variety of things, like movie nights, sunsets at the terrace, music festivals, etc. We go to almost every single home game to support our football team and Badger athletics. Summertime usually is a little different because it is our off-season months and on-campus presence is not mandatory, so I usually spend that time back in Hawaii. There are plenty of activities to do on the islands. Among all the fun things, I spend most of my time surfing and hiking. Recently, I also started to develop an interest in golf. 

What are your plans after graduation?

As of now, I am focusing on finding an opportunity to move my classroom learning to real-world practice and becoming a member of the workforce. I am also open to pursuing an advanced degree that will further my academic studies while receiving some work experiences. We will see. I am wide open at the moment and am very excited to see where I will be next. 

Pin It on Pinterest