After starting his bachelor’s degree in California, Yu from China transferred to Auburn University, drawn to the school’s focused learning atmosphere and close-knit community. Through hard work and commitment, Yu graduated with a high grade point average (GPA), and is now considering multiple offers from graduate schools in the US and Hong Kong.
Learn more about Yu’s journey to studying mechanical engineering at Auburn, including navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, his memorable senior project, and feeling right at home in Alabama.
Navigating Pandemic Learning at Auburn
Early in his academic journey, Yu discovered the pandemic brought unique learning challenges.
“It was hard academically. With COVID you have to do everything online, like talk to your [class]mates, and [it is] even hard for the teachers to reach you,” he said. But Auburn’s supportive and flexible learning culture, proactive safety measures, and engaged faculty made him feel safe and confident.
“Because my major requires a lot of laboratory things — before COVID, that part was easy,” he said. “It really changed our lives, but our engineering department really gave us good [resources and support]. They published a lot of stuff for us to use, [and] we [could] use those things at home. Even remote access to the tech stuff on campus. Sometimes you [could] make appointments to the laboratory so you [could] just use the laboratory by yourself, with a teacher by your side!”
When Yu graduated last August, Auburn was shifting toward a hybrid learning model to help students transition back to normal life at a comfortable pace. Today, Auburn students can choose to study on campus or opt for videoconference classes. In every case, appropriate COVID-19 safety procedures are in place to ensure students feel secure.
At Home in Alabama
In search of a quiet, calm, and scenic environment to study, Yu was drawn to Alabama, home of world-famous engineering schools such as Auburn. He loved the area’s amazing natural surroundings, including beautiful mountains, valleys, beaches, and rivers. He felt at ease in Alabama, thanks to the state’s mild climate, diverse culture, and friendly communities.
“In Auburn, you can chill out, grab a coffee with friends, do homework, talk about after-school life with friends,” he said. “My experience in America has been great, even with COVID. I experienced a ton of different cultures. People are nice here; you can just talk to anyone. That’s how I made most of my friends.”
A Senior Project that Makes Positive Change
Yu’s most memorable time at Auburn was during his senior project. During those two semesters, he was encouraged to think creatively and work on impactful projects that would improve lives in the greater community. His project turned out to be one of his most rewarding experiences as an undergraduate student.
“It’s my very first project that I actually built to help other people. We actually built a skating device for people with cerebral palsy,” he said. The person who inspired the project “just wanted to skate. We had to build a device to help him skate and achieve his dream!”
His senior project gave Yu an opportunity to improve his teamwork skills in a real-world problem-solving scenario, and make a device that changes lives for the better.
Studying in the US Is “Totally Worth it”
Yu encourages international students to be confident and have the courage to make big decisions that have the potential to better their future. He believes his experience in the US helped him gain a wide range of skills and knowledge, and inspired him to drive impactful changes in his home country.
By choosing to study in the US, international students are exposed to multiple learning opportunities and career pathways. Through the university’s collaboration with Shorelight, students can also benefit from working with Shorelight advisors to identify best-fit degree programs, submit applications and apply for visas, develop career-building skills, and more!
Yu’s time at Auburn was an invaluable experience that he will remember for the rest of his life.
“Just don’t be afraid!” he advised other international students. “The future is bright.”
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