Jialin Liu

Jialin LiuJialin Liu is a sophomore from Shanghai, China, who is pursuing a double major in Economics and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. 

Jialin chose Brandeis because of its reputation for an open and diverse campus, as well as its rigorous academic environment. She attended a traditional Chinese high school in Shanghai and had little experience interacting with native English speakers before arriving for the Gateway Scholars Program, but she was eager to make friends from all over the world at Brandeis. Jialin was nervous and excited at the beginning of Gateway, but felt frustrated by her inability to express herself. “I wasn’t able to speak! But I was supposed to participate in class and ask questions,” she recalls.

Jialin slowly began to build confidence in her language skills throughout the seven-week Gateway Scholars Summer Program. All three Gateway Summer courses have a critical thinking and oral skills component, and Jialin gradually became more comfortable speaking in front of other people. Jialin remembers her Academic Oral Communication course as particularly helpful because she learned concrete strategies to improve her speaking skills. Through Critical Reading and Analytical Writing, she also became familiar with the types of assignments she was expected to complete at Brandeis. When Jialin took a Public Speaking course in the spring semester of her freshman year, she felt so confident in her English language skills that she was the first student to volunteer to give a speech, and she impressed her teacher.

Now in her second year at Brandeis, Jialin is a leader in the campus community. She is a Student Ambassador for Brandeis Admissions, where she leads tours of the campus for prospective students, participates in student panels, and gives advice to incoming international students. In addition to speaking with students from all over the world, this role requires Jialin to be very knowledgeable about Brandeis and the resources available on campus. Fortunately, the Gateway Scholars Program prepared her for this. Gateway Scholars learn about Brandeis and become familiar with the campus, while also developing their critical thinking, analytical writing, and oral communication skills. Furthermore, during the Gateway Scholars’ first year, they are matched with a peer mentor [Upperclassman Buddy] who helps them navigate college life. Jialin’s Buddy took her to events that Jialin would not have known about and introduced her to new people. These experiences helped Jialin feel more at home at Brandeis. She says: “I feel that I really built up my confidence and learned how to use different resources on campus.”

Jialin has a lot of advice for new Gateway Scholars. She encourages future Gateway Scholars to be brave, step out of their comfort zone, and talk with native English speakers as much as they can. Most importantly, she says, “cherish every moment in Gateway because you won’t learn these skills in other classes or programs.”