A new seminar series at UCLA aims to spark discussions among Chinese students and connect them to academic and career advice from researchers.
The program, UCLA Chinese-American Students and Scholars Seminar, originated from the Chinese Biomedical Peer Seminar, a program founded in 2011 and aimed to promote scientific collaboration among Chinese graduate students.
The inaugural seminar for the new program, called UCLA-C3S, was held at the California NanoSystem Institute Friday. It featured speeches from UCLA professors who volunteered to talk about how to build a successful academic career.
Zhiping Feng, a molecular, cellular and integrative physiology graduate student from China, said he was inspired to found C3S because he wanted to expand the work of the Chinese Biomedical Peer Seminar and include ideas from students in all majors beyond the sciences. He said he noticed the talents of many Chinese graduate students and wanted to provide a platform for them to share their ideas and professional findings.
“We need to open up,” Feng said. “Go enjoy the campus – it has so much to offer.”
The new program features both academic- and career-related seminars as well as career networking opportunities to appeal to students with different needs. Feng said his team receives mentorship from UCLA professors from a range of disciplines who are enthusiastic about the program. The team also invites UCLA scholars to share both their individual studies and career advice.
“I wanted to collect all this information and ideas and put (them) on a platform to release them to everyone, so that everyone knows that there are meaningful things happening on campus,” Feng said.
Ziqi Zang, a co-founder of C3S, said the program works to connect Chinese students at UCLA to each other through seminars as well as by referring them to entrepreneurs and scholarship opportunities from China.
“UCLA is a big campus that convenes (Chinese and Chinese-Americans) together, but people from different departments often don’t know each other,” said Zang, a graduate student in economics.
At the Friday seminar, UCLA-C3S invited computer science professor Jason Cong to share his story about developing a career in the U.S.
Cong gave a speech on designing careers from an engineer’s perspective, making analogies to engineering concepts.
After listening to Cong’s speech, Aolin Wang, an epidemiology graduate student, stood up and said she felt the seminar helped her think of ways to design her career.
Ren Sun, senior associate dean of graduate studies at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said the program can ease Chinese students’ transition to the U.S. by offering advice from people with similar backgrounds.
Sun added that he thinks international students may face some of the same problems adjusting in the U.S., and the program welcomes students from all cultural backgrounds.
Feng said that unlike the UCLA Career Center, the program aggregates a wide spectrum of perspectives at each event to encourage Chinese students to learn from different disciplines.
Sanaz Nabati, a career counselor at the Career Center, said the events are meant to benefit everyone, but the center caters to individuals’ different backgrounds by offering case-by-case advice.
UCLA-C3S is featuring a mentor session by Sue Baumgarten, a UCLA alumna, Tuesday.