Jiarui Li

Jiarui LiJiarui Li is a senior from Shenyang, China. She has just graduated from Brandeis with a BA in Business and International Global Studies (IGS) and a minor in Anthropology. She was the Coordinator of the Sixth Sense Dance Team at Brandeis and a volunteer at the Brandeis-Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Jiarui has also completed internships for corporations and investment groups in Shenyang, as well as in the Boston area.

When Jiarui was researching universities, she knew she wanted to be in the Boston area. She was impressed by the caliber of the Brandeis faculty and she thought that it would be a great environment for studying. Jiarui wasn’t able to visit Brandeis before she enrolled, so her first experience on campus was during the Gateway Scholars Summer Program. While she was nervous at first, Jiarui remembers that “everyone was so friendly and was always smiling! I started saying ‘Hi’ and ‘How are you?’ to people.” Jiarui remembers being intimidated at first by an especially strict Gateway professor, but believes that this professor helped her more than any other to develop her critical thinking and communication skills. “I learned a lot from her because she was really candid about my mistakes. She would give samples from students who were really good at close reading and gradually I began to improve in her class.” 

Jiarui believes that the one of the most important skills she learned during Gateway was how to write an academic paper. Jiarui explains: “Other professors don’t teach us how to write a paper when we actually take their class--they just say ‘write a paper’. In Gateway, I learned how to structure a paper and it’s different from my high school level five paragraph essay.” As a Business and IGS major, Jiarui has written dozens of papers during her four years at Brandeis and is grateful that she had the opportunity during Gateway to improve her writing skills so extensively.

Jiarui also improved her oral communication skills during Gateway and became more comfortable talking to her professors during office hours. During Gateway, Jiarui says, “I actually visited professors’ office hours a lot, so it’s like warm-up for real college life.” Jiarui continued to go to her professors’ office hours after Gateway. “Once you go to their office hours, the professor knows you and when you raise your hand, they know your name and that feels really good. Also, when I tell my professor about my difficulties, they help me. Especially when I’m writing a paper, they will sometimes see and check my thesis so I feel confident about writing my paper.” When Jiarui began her first semester at Brandeis after Gateway, she still felt nervous about speaking up in classes with native English speakers. After discussing her hesitation with a professor during office hours, the professor encouraged Jiarui to not be afraid to speak during class, so she soon began to participate more. Jiarui says: “Now, as a senior, I really contribute a lot to class!”

After the Gateway Scholars Summer Program ends, Gateway Scholars continue to receive support. They are paired with an analytical writing tutor who is trained to work with non-native English speakers. They are also matched with an upperclassmen buddy who serves as mentor and helps each Scholar acclimate to life at Brandeis. Jiarui found both of these support systems to be crucial during her first year. Her writing tutor helped her generate ideas and taught her how to self-edit her papers. Meanwhile, Jiarui’s buddy introduced her to a wide range of people. She eventually became more comfortable speaking English among her peers and in informal settings. Of everything that Jiarui has accomplished at Brandeis, she is most proud of how much her English has improved in the last four years. Jiarui explains: “I started hanging out with people who are from here. I was exposed to different cultures and got out of my comfort zone. I wanted to fully take advantage of this study abroad opportunity.”

Jiarui is now applying for Master’s programs in Marketing in the United Kingdom for 2018. With the critical thinking and academic communication skills she has developed during Gateway and the rest of her time at Brandeis, as well as the confidence to push herself outside her comfort zone, Jiarui is ready for her next international adventure.