Mei Dong is a senior at Randolph-Macon Woman's College located near Richmond, Virginia. She says coming to the United States to study was absolutely the correct choice for her.
"I‘m from Nanjing, China, which is in the province of Jiansu about two and a half hours away from Shanghai," she says. "Before I came to the States, I went to Singapore for my high school. I stayed in Singapore for four years and after that four years I feel that I want to continue my education in a bigger country and I feel that the United States has the best college education in the world and there was one vacation when I went back home to discuss my college plan with my dad and my dad happen to have this friend who use to be a visiting professor at my current college and he highly recommended this college because it is a woman college and it is in a very peaceful countryside in Virginia, so he felt that would be a good starting point for me in the United States and that’s how I ended up here."
Math has always been Mei Dong's passion in life. However, after coming to Randolph-Macon Woman's College she started to have an interest in economics as well. "I like mathematics since my high school," she says. "I use to have this excellent math teacher in my high school in Singapore and he deeply inspired me and that’s how I decided to major in math."
"On the other hand, I wanted to major in economics," she adds, "because I felt that I don’t want to indulge myself in abstract work of math. I want to know about the society as well and I feel that economics is a subject enables me to see how math is applied to real world problems because there is a lot of analytical problems and a lot of economic problems use math skills to solve so I feel that these two majors are going to be a great combination and right now I am pursuing a career of an actuary so I feel that these two majors will serve me very well for this career."
One thing Mei says her studies have made her come to realize is how important it is to be a critical thinker. She says talking to her friends about her thoughts and listening to their opinions has helped her digest and integrate many different perspectives of how people view issues.
"I feel that in the United States the economy has developed with such a fascinating speed that there are a lot of loose connections in the society. I mean people spiritual lives or the religious aspect of people’s lives kind of slip away with the advancement of the economic progress," she says. "And most of the time we are just immersed in this commercial culture and we are not even conscious about it."
"But I feel that the overall effect of this whole culture might not be always beneficial to the society, so I feel that my education enable(s) me to always look at a society critically not only just take for granted to absorb whatever the culture, the corporation have given to us but think about whether the society is really progressing in a good direction or is there aspects we should improve rather than just accept whatever is there."
Becoming an actuary in the insurance industry is Mei's plan after graduation, but there are still a few more things that have to happen before she pursue her career interest. "Actuary(ies) are in demand in China, especially actuaries who are working in the property casualty insurance field," she says. "And for actuary we need to complete about 10 exams for our career. Right now, I have only taken three exams so far so I guess I will continue taking those exams while working in the United States to have the working experience in this country while finishing whatever I need to finish for my career."
"And after that I really want to go back to Asia and work in Asia," she adds, "so I feel that my expertise and knowledge will be very well applied in my country. But I guess when I go back initially I still need to learn more about my country’s own situation because I believe that is a different culture here from in the United States."