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If anyone is qualified to help others with the admissions process at UHD, it's Benjamin Mao. His journey from applicant to student started almost 8,000 miles away near Zhengzhou, China. As a student assistant at the front counter in the Office of Admissions, he helps new and returning students, answers questions about UHD and gives campus tours. His strong work ethic, exemplary customer service and positive attitude make him a valued team member. His supervisor, Courtney Lundgren, Coordinator of Customer Services, added "this position has helped enhance his communication skills on a daily basis."
Mao moved to Houston three years ago after growing up near Zhengzhou, the capital and largest city of Henan province. Mao's mother and sister moved to Houston before he did to lay the groundwork for him to attain a permanent visa. After meticulously researching local accounting programs, Mao said he chose UHD because "it had a better curriculum and real-world applications." His decision to attend college in the United States was also greatly influenced by the current academic system in his homeland.
Chinese college applicants face a logistical nightmare. The enormous population combined with the scarcity of universities has created a situation where only 1.2 percent of high school students attend college. Applicants are evaluated entirely on one entrance exam that includes calculus, physics, chemistry and biology. According to Mao, "if you don't get into one of the top 100 schools, your degree is essentially worthless."
In addition to education, other cultural differences include traffic, censorship and food. When asked about the Chinese food in Houston, he shared that he has yet to find an authentic meal. Mao plans on earning a master's degree in accounting and perhaps eventually returning to China for some home cooking.
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Last updated or reviewed on 2/24/12