Lakeland College

Yang Jiacheng - snapshot of success

Name: Yang Jiacheng

Hometown: Yantai, China

When Yang Jiacheng arrived from China two years ago, he was excited – but also a bit nervous.

"I knew if I could study here, I could achieve my dreams, but my English was not very good," Yang says. "I was afraid to speak English with Americans."

Now, thanks in part to a strong semester at the on-campus English Language Institute, Yang speaks confidently and with ease. His friendly smile and approachable demeanor fit right in with Lakeland's culture.

"The people are nice to me here," says Yang, a senior who's majoring in chemistry and minoring in math. "I am comfortable. The environment is good. All of the professors treat me extremely well. When I have academic questions, I go to their office and they are always very patient with me."

During his semester as an ELI student, Yang learned English grammar, conversation and reading and studied American culture. He quickly took an interest in Lakeland's sports teams, and he enjoys the food.

"It was a good way for me to understand American ways," says Yang of the ELI, adding that he benefited greatly from being paired up with an American "Conversation Partner" through the ELI. "ELI is a good program and everyone helped me a lot."

"The ELI helped him make the transition linguistically and culturally to American academic life," says Tim Fojtik, director of the English Language Institute. "In the ELI, we do our best to prepare students to develop not only necessary skills, but also the necessary habits to succeed academically here. Yang followed the program perfectly, and I think it prepared him well."

Prior to coming to Wisconsin, Yang studied at the East China Institute of Technology, a sister school to Lakeland. While improving his English skills at the ELI, he got to know faculty members in Lakeland's natural sciences division and sat in on some chemistry classes just to learn how they are conducted.

Now Yang is thriving here. Not only is he on track to graduate in the spring; he's also a tutor in chemistry and math and recently completed Lakeland's highly regarded Lakeland Undergraduate Research Experience (LURE) program. He smiles proudly when talking about the poster in Chase Hall that commemorates his LURE project on biodiesel fuel.

After graduation, Yang plans to attend Ph.D. graduate school, possibly at UW-Madison or in California. Someday, he'd like to become a professor in the U.S. What a great goal for a young man who, just a couple of short years ago, wasn't comfortable speaking English.

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