“When you walk down the street, people always smile at you.” The welcoming atmosphere is one thing junior Yangyang Wang loves about Beloit. To him, it’s pretty special. “You do not see that friendliness in many other places,” he says.
Yangyang knows about “other places.” The international student hails from Shanghai, China. While he brings a unique perspective, Beloit has shown him hundreds of perspectives just as unique. “Students here have very different backgrounds,” he says.
Yangyang found that Beloit’s diverse student body —from 47 states and 38 countries—educates each member. “Different people generate various opinions about the same issue,” he says. “This diversity makes you think about what causes your different viewpoints.” Such challenging interactions have broadened Yangyang’s horizons. “I am now more open to the people around me,” he says. “I have become a more independent thinker.”
Independent thought has also been encouraged by Yangyang’s professors. He worked closely with faculty on several special projects. With Bob Elder, he combined mathematics with his economics major to study mathematical macroeconomics. This interdisciplinary project showed Yangyang that his interests can work in effective synthesis. “Mathematics and economics is a powerful combination,” he says.
Beloit’s interdisciplinary opportunities led Yangyang to connect economics with another interest: history. He did a special project on past recessions. It was advised by Jeff Adams, whom Yangyang calls his most influential professor. “Jeff has given me many academic suggestions,” he says, “but he has also given me life suggestions. I really cherish everything he has done for me.”
With Beloit’s strong student-faculty connections, it’s no surprise Beloit alumni stay attached. Yangyang has seen their regard for the college firsthand. “The alumni I have met feel very sincere affection towards Beloit,” he says.
Beloit’s alumni, Yangyang found, are also a great networking resource. He landed an internship at a Beloit graduate’s Chicago company. There, he researched and planned budgets alongside senior executives. It was not all work, though: “We played table tennis together. That was really fun!”
Yangyang enjoys more fun with his Beloit host family. With them, he eats Sunday dinner, plays pool, and learns about American politics. “Hanging out with my host family is a continuation of my Beloit education,” he says.
Though Yangyang’s Beloit experience has encompassed much, he can apply one lesson to it all. “There is a strong correlation between how hard you work and how much you learn,” he says. “Sometimes you have to try new or difficult things.” The result? An education that extends way beyond his transcript. “At Beloit,” Yangyang says, “grades are not everything.”