Work hard, play hard

Ke “Duke” Ding’22 chose Beloit for the relationships he knew he’d foster here — studying with classmates, running track, and helping fellow international students apply for jobs. “Going to a liberal arts college is not the common choice for Chinese students. But for me, if I had to choose again, I would still choose Beloit, 100 percent.”

Duke Ding’22 has his summer on campus all planned out: work as an Orientation Leader, two internships, a few weekend morning shifts at the Powerhouse, and time left over to work out and relax with friends. Hailing from Hohhot, China, about five hours outside Beijing, Ding says he is thankful for a safer and more productive summer in Beloit before starting the graduate school application grind in the coming months.

“I created a Facebook group chat in the beginning [of the summer],” Ding says. “We had 28, 30 people, and now we have over 60. Every single day there is a lot of stuff going on — there are people going somewhere, maybe on a hike together, or somebody’s cooking, or some party is happening.”

Majoring in environmental justice and citizenship and minoring in mathematics, Ding has his hands full with a part-time, remote internship at RENEW Wisconsin, a Madison-based nonprofit. As an intern, he scours the internet for articles and research promoting renewable energy. He’s also juggling a full-time position as a summer camp educator at the Welty Environmental Center in nearby Big Hill Park.

On top of providing all-day programming and after-school care to 6-to-12-year-olds, he’ll bike to Welty every day. “It’s a half-hour bike ride,” Ding says. “My track coach will be really happy because biking every day is a lot!”

This fall, he will transition from his summer and fall Orientation Leader duties to Resident Assistant for the 609 dorm, continue to intern at Welty for the Duffy Program course, and keep his position as a peer mentor in Career Works, Beloit’s revamped career center. But he’s most focused on co-leading the club Global Career Services (formerly called Beloit International Student Career Services) with River Pham’23. 

Ding sees GCS as filling a crucial gap between Career Works and the new Office of Global and Domestic Learning. The group leads workshops to help international students acquire work visas and connect with alumni in the states and abroad — and, under its more inclusive new name, its members hope to also connect domestic students with potential jobs outside of the U.S.

“This club gives me ways to know more people, especially international students,” Ding says. “As a runner, the team was the only people I knew [for a long time]. In Commons, I sat on one side with my teammates. I didn’t know that the people on the other side are fun, interesting, and funny; I never got the chance to talk to them. This club is a good way for me to grow.”

He hopes to use the skills and professional advice he’s learned from others in the group to apply for master’s programs in environmental management before starting up his own NGO or think tank aimed at combating environmental issues.

All of Ding’s activities at Beloit so far have been all about connecting with people and ideas — by design.

“As an international student from China, I was looking for a small-sized community,” he says. “I come from a high school where each grade was bigger than Beloit. [At Beloit] you can go to your professor’s house and have a personal relationship with them. Going to a liberal arts college is not the common choice for Chinese students. But for me, if I had to choose again, I would still choose Beloit, 100 percent.”

Meg Kulikowski’21
July 01, 2021

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