John Wang, Theatre and Sociology

On May 14, UW–Madison will celebrate its Spring 2022 Commencement. We reached out to a few of our students who are graduating from programs in the School of Education to learn about their favorite UW–Madison memories and future plans. Following is a Q&A with John Wang, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in theatre and drama, and sociology. 

Photo of John Wang
John Wang

Where are you from, and what brought you to UW–Madison?

I was born in Beijing, China, and moved to a coastal city in Guangdong province, Zhuhai, at 6. My childhood and teenage years were typical for my generation: video games, unrequited loves, snack breaks in the school canteen, quizzes, tests, and exams. Like most school kids, I never seriously considered my future plan or did a thorough introspection of my deepest passion; there were so many questions much more important than that, like: What should I have for lunch? or, How can I nap in class without being noticed by the teacher? Nothing seemed too challenging for me because I didn’t have much desire. However, at some point during my sophomore year in high school, I decided to do something that would distinguish me from other students, something “cool”: not attending the Chinese College Entrance Examination, but instead the American one. Then, it was a frustrating discovery that I actually never really understood the subject I had learned since kindergarten called English. The learning process was painful and accompanied by the sometimes unsupportive atmosphere in a Chinese public school that focuses on the entrance exam. Eventually, I made it and came to UW–Madison thanks to my family’s support and my adolescent stubbornness.

What are your majors, and how did you choose them?

I am a double major in theatre and drama, and sociology with a studio art certificate. I settled on sociology in the second semester of my sophomore year and added a T&D degree at the end of my senior year. I changed my major three times before reaching this final decision.

What was your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison?

I struggled in the first two years of college. The language barrier and the pressure of having a high GPA obstructed my pursuit of intellectual interests. Plus, it is always cozy to stay in a circle that has the same language and cultural background as yours. As I acquired better language skills and with the support of our amazing faculty, I made the step out of my comfort zone and towards where my true passion is.

What class or professor had the greatest impact on you, and why?

Sociology 210: Survey of Sociology had the greatest impact. I have been bad at writing regardless of language since childhood. Sociology 210 satisfied the Com B requirement (which means writing-intensive) and was one of the first sociology classes I took. My first research paper and writing assignments were undoubtedly a disaster. With a considerable amount of time and effort, I eventually received an A for my final project, which granted me the confidence to continue on this path of pain and discoveries.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Be bold and find what interests you and pushes your limits.

What’s next for you? What are your plans for the future?

I am moving to Indiana and attending the acting master of fine arts program at Purdue University. I will further explore the traditional theaters of East Asia and hopefully become a stage actor in a regional theater after graduation.

What is your favorite “hidden gem” on campus or in Madison?

Henry Vilas Zoo

Read more student stories from 2022 graduates

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