Xinyue Tao has had to work harder than the average student during her two years at NAU.
Tao is an international student from Jiangsu University in Zhenjiang, China and is enrolled in the 1+2+1 exchange program NAU has in place with several universities. She attended her first year at Jiangsu, then studied at NAU for two years and now will finish her undergraduate program after one more year at her home university, earning two degrees, one from each school.
Wanting to push herself academically and socially, Tao chose to study abroad and major in English to improve her language skills and to better understand the culture by learning in an English-speaking country. After reading about the dynamic community and educational opportunities that NAU provides, she knew this was the American university for her.
“When I look back on my two-year study at NAU, I am sure that this is one of the best decisions I have made,” she said.
The greatest challenge she faced at NAU was learning in a language that she was not proficient in. However, Tao put in the work to improve her language skills on her own so it would not hold her back.
“Reading, writing and speaking in a second language is not that easy. I felt pretty anxious at first because I did not want my two years to be stuck in a situation where I could not understand what others and the books said. I stayed up late to read the texts again and again for the first month to overcome the language barrier. When I look back on my time at NAU, I am proud of the effort and achievements I made.”
Tao knew the importance of connecting with professors, and this helped her in a number of ways. Nancy Barrón, an English professor, helped Tao develop an interest in the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, which led to her admission into the UN Spotlight Training Program. Barrón’s guidance allowed Tao to improve her presentation skills both in the classroom and in the UN program and she is now confident in her English public speaking. Karen Renner, an associate professor of English, also helped Tao throughout her time at NAU. Renner provided detailed feedback to help strengthen her writing and created an inclusive environment in the classroom to make all students feel welcomed and comfortable.
As she prepares to graduate from NAU, Tao offered some parting advice to all incoming students: Find your true passion, manage your time and plan for the future.
“Time management can help you feel less overwhelmed when many deadlines come together,” Tao said. “You also need to make time to find your passion and master the skills you need to pursue your passion. Students should not limit themselves only to the field of their major and should consider all the possibilities of the future.”
After graduating from NAU, Tao will return to Jiangsu University to finish her second degree. She plans on returning to the United States to earn a master’s degree.
Maddie Blunier | NAU Communications