Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

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The International Path to SCU

What inspires international students to come to SCU? Environmental science and economics major Mingfei Xiong ’18 shares his experience.

It’s always interesting to get to know all of the different paths that lead students to Santa Clara University and even more intriguing are students that travel from afar to study here. We sat down with Mingfei Xiong, an international student from China majoring in environmental science with a minor in economics, to find out what inspired him to become a Bronco.

How did you hear about Santa Clara University?

I heard about SCU from my father. He came to the Bay Area for a conference and visit to the United States during my sophomore year of high school and spent some of his free time scouting out schools along the West Coast. His Chinese friends in the area gave him three top schools to visit which included Berkeley, Stanford, and SCU. They highly recommended Santa Clara University as an excellent regional institution and that weighed heavily on my family’s impression of the school. After visiting SCU, my father was also impressed and thought it would be an excellent choice for me. Upon his return to China, he told me about his trip and the schools he saw. SCU got my attention right away and my instincts told me that I should apply early action.

How did you make the decision to come to SCU vs other schools?

Though I highly regarded my father’s and his friend’s opinions on college choices, I just had to come to the United States to check out schools myself. Studying abroad is already a big decision and I felt like I had to go look at all of my options before applying. When I came to California I visited all of the schools in the Bay Area and headed down south to the Los Angeles area to check out UCLA, UC Irvine, and some of the smaller institutions like Claremont McKenna and Harvey Mudd. I realized that my preference leaned towards smaller, private schools with a peaceful environment. Although I found a few good options in the Los Angeles area, one of the biggest turn-offs for me was the heavy traffic and smog. I didn’t want to be in that type of environment and also looked ahead thinking that the Bay Area would offer me more job opportunities after graduating.

What attracted you to Santa Clara University?

Santa Clara University had many of the things that were a priority for me in a college. One of the most attractive aspects of the school was that the class sizes are small and there’s a lot of personal attention. If I miss a class here, I often get a direct email from my professor asking me what happened. The faculty is also top-notch and I really appreciate being able to have so much opportunity to engage and learn from them. The environment was also a huge magnet for me. I’m an environmental science major and the fact that the school is so environmentally conscious and driven by green energy, really impressed me. The location is also unbeatable. We’re in the middle of Silicon Valley with lots of opportunity for employment. It doesn’t hurt that there’s an amazing place to go hiking or sight-seeing an hour away in each direction.

What is your favorite thing about SCU?

I come from a family where education is really important. My father is a principal at a primary school and my mother is a librarian. For my parents, the quality of education that I receive is their number one priority. I feel strongly that SCU gives me that and more! I’ve met some amazing people here and the faculty has helped introduce me to some awesome opportunities like getting a summer internship at The Nature Conservancy, becoming a TA for the department of Environmental Studies & Sciences, and even working for the school of admissions helping with international students who are hoping to go to school here.

What are your plans after you graduate?

My dream job is to become a park ranger where I would have direct involvement with archaeologists during digs, and scientists studying the land. I’m also interested in working in a water treatment plant power plant or using new technology related to graphical information systems (GIS) like mapping and tracking. Getting further education is also of interest to me as well as dabbling in the possibilities that Silicon Valley offers in the way of entrepreneurship and innovation. There are a lot of options out there and getting an education at SCU has empowered me with the tools I need to make my dreams come true. I look forward to what the future holds.