HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student Tyler Makepeace has joined the HNC Office of International Admissions as a student worker. Along with two Nanjing-based students, over the next year he'll be providing a glimpse into the student experience at HNC on this blog. Read on to learn more about Tyler:
My name is Tyler Makepeace, and I am a 2014 HNC Certificate graduate as well as a current SAIS MA student double-concentrating in China Studies and International Finance. This year, I am excited to be working with the HNC admissions office, and will be participating in online chats with prospective students, as well as updating the HNC blog with some helpful information about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and my own personal experiences at the Center.
My own interest in China began in the summer of 2008, in the buildup to the Beijing Olympics. The STARTALK Program, a government funded program that offers free month-long classes in critical languages like Mandarin, had just set up a satellite at my high school; I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the country that was poised to take the world stage in August. After STARTALK, I was eager to continue with my Mandarin classes, but also to experience China first-hand. At Colgate University I double-majored in International Relations and Chinese, and in the summer of 2012 had the opportunity to intern with a Taipei-based tool manufacturer. However, during my senior year at Colgate I felt that I did not have the requisite experience in China to get the job of my choice.
I first found out about SAIS and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center from Lauren Szymanski, an HNC admissions coordinator who visited Colgate during my senior year. Like many prospective students, I found the HNC’s program, which allowed me to continue my study of International Affairs, while at the same time honing my Mandarin skills with native speakers in China, to be something that no other graduate program could offer. In the end I decided to apply for the HNC Certificate/SAIS Master’s program, which would allow me to spend a year at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and later to return to Washington, DC to finish my MA at the SAIS DC campus.
While at the HNC I was able to deepen my study of International Affairs with Mandarin classes like Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy and Chinese Rural Politics. However, I was also able to broaden my studies with English electives like Cyberlaw, and even able to get a leg up on my study of Finance in DC with a Corporate Finance class taught by the one and only Paul Armstrong-Taylor (PAT). However, unlike many graduate programs, classes at the HNC are only a portion of the academic experience. My roommate, a graduate student of International Law from Xiamen University, helped me gain an interest in International Law through our discussions on his experiences as part of the HNC International Moot Court team, and also helped me solve some bad habits in my speech and writing.
I also had the opportunity to get involved in a number of extracurricular activities during my time in Nanjing. I, along with Nicole Fritzy, revamped the Center’s coffee shop, and worked alongside with an amazing team of International and Chinese students to deliver a much needed caffeine boost to the student population. I was also involved with the Student Alumni Activities Interest Group (SAAIG), which coordinated with Career Services to help host alumni, along with designing HNC-themed apparel for students. During my second semester at the Center I also signed up to be a part of the HNC’s Dragon boat team, which represented the Center at the Dragon Boat race held on Duanwujie.
Perhaps my greatest contribution to the Center was my involvement in the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s rock band, MENERGY, as rhythm guitarist/vocalist. MENERGY was formed within the first month of school, and we were able to practice in the Center’s own music room in order to rock the campus (naming rights for MENERGY rightfully belong to our very own Career Services director, Robbie Shields, who incidentally now owns most of our copyrights). Throughout the academic year, MENERGY was a central part of all the Center’s most popular events, including the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Halloween Party, and the Spring BBQ. Kevin Bond, guitarist and 2nd year MAIS student, will be scouting the incoming class for members of his new band, The Band Formerly Known As MENERGY.
I look forward to talking with many of you during this year’s online chats, and hope these blog posts give a sense of the wide diversity of experiences available at the Center.