Zitong, also known as Terri, is an international student from China at the University of Utah. She started off as a chemistry major, but is now pursuing a degree in film and media arts and a minor in Italian. As a student, she is passionate about exploring the field of film production. As a student support specialist for Utah Global, she is eager to support international students in identifying their unique strengths.
Learn more about Terri and her adventures at Utah Global!
Terri’s Journey to Film and Media Arts
Terri’s interest in film and media arts stems from her time in high school.
“I took some film classes in high school, and I wasn’t really sure about what I wanted to do when I first came to university,” she says. Originally, she was planning to be a chemistry major, but during fall break she watched a movie that inspired her — and changed her whole future.
“I took some time to really sit down and think [about] what I wanted to do. I looked up our film and media art department website and … it’s a pretty solid program. Our tuition is a lot cheaper, [but] we still get the chance to do a lot of the hands-on practice, which is really important. So, I dropped the chemistry major and declared film and media arts as my major.”
Ranked #105 in national universities by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City is recognized for creating global leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Through Utah Global, international students can enhance their learning experience by accessing a variety of exclusive support services and resources tailored to their unique needs.
Terri appreciates the university’s close-knit classroom environment, in-person attention from teachers, and hands-on learning experiences, all of which drive her enthusiasm to study film production. The university’s film and media equipment lab features advanced cameras, lighting, and other film-related devices for students to use in and out of the classroom. Professors encourage students to think creatively and explore innovative ideas to reach their full potential.
“At the end of each class they will tell you, ‘I’m here to help you!’,” says Terri.
Terri also points out that students at Utah Global have the opportunity to build connections and gain valuable skills outside the classroom. For example, with her focus on film and media arts, Terri looks forward to Utah’s annual Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the US, where thousands of filmmakers gather to show new films, network, and pitch future projects.
“We get student packages [that] will allow us to go to the screenings at a cheaper price, and we even have a class designed for students,” she said. “I went to the online Sundance Film festival; I think the experience means a lot as a film major and student filmmaker.”
Terri’s Work as a Utah Global Student Support Specialist
Terri is also passionate about connecting with international students. If a student has questions related to academics, extracurricular activities, or campus housing, or needs support with adapting to the culture and language, she is there to help.
“I can relate to their situation of being exposed to a new culture and coming from outside the country to a new place,” she said. “So, I think my experience in [Salt Lake City] really helped me to learn what it’s like, so that I can better help others.”
She also manages the Utah Global social media account, where she uses her film and media skills to create engaging posts that get the student community involved.
Terri’s Advice for International Students
Before choosing a major or making career plans, Terri believes in taking the time to find out what you are interested in, what motivates and inspires you. Reflecting on your favorite subjects and activities in high school and pursuing your studies in those areas can be a start.
“Don’t be afraid to [explore during] your freshman year; take a bunch of gen ed classes to see what you are interested in,” she said. “Randomly browse through the university website, just [to] see different departments, what programs they have. Read through the four-year plan they give you and slowly develop your interest or locate where your interests lie.”
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