Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Student Profile: Morgan Brown

Name: Morgan Brown (HNC '20)

Program: Master of Arts International Studies, China Studies concentration

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Colorado Boulder; Chinese Language and Literature, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

How did you become interested in China? Have you had any prior experiences here?

I happened to stumble upon China during my Sophomore year of high school when I saw a poster advertising an exchange program with a sister school in Chengdu. They needed more people to host students who were visiting from China for 10 days and I volunteered to help. We then had the opportunity to reverse exchange, traveling to Chengdu for 10 days on a scholarship provided by my school to stay with the same people who we had hosted. Traveling to China for the first time was an amazing experience, and completely changed my life. My host family tried to give me the real China experience and I was blown away by the food, culture, sense of history, and kindness I received there. My host family invited me back to live with them for the summer and from that time on my interest was sparked. I ended up taking Mandarin starting my Junior year of high school, majoring in Chinese Language and Literature, and traveling to Nanjing to study abroad during my senior year of college before coming to the HNC.

What professional experiences have you had between undergrad and HNC?

I was really burned out after my undergraduate experience and wanted to get a taste of professional life, so I ended up working for three years before coming to the HNC. I worked for a localization company called TransPerfect Translations where I managed the localization strategies of two of our Fortune 500 enterprise clients. Although I didn’t use my Mandarin during these three years, I think it was a really important time for me. Not only did it help me figure out what I was looking for in a professional career, but I was able to gain the maturity and perspective I wanted before continuing my education.

What encouraged you to apply to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center? What’s your focus here?

I was inspired to apply to the HNC after someone came to introduce the program to my language class during Junior year of Undergrad. I thought the program sounded really cool because I wanted a more extended experience in China (not just a study abroad program) and I wanted the opportunity to solidify my Mandarin. Although during undergrad and study abroad I was taking classes in Mandarin, they were primarily focused on learning the language. I wanted the chance to solidify my fluency by taking classes from Chinese Professors about varying topics that already assumed you had the language background necessary. I was also really excited about the opportunity to write, research, and defend a master’s thesis in Mandarin, which to me felt like it would prove that I had done what I set out to do. Although I wasn’t ready to move on to my graduate studies right after graduating, I always kept this program in the back of my mind, and it was something I knew I would do someday. When I applied for graduate school, I actually only applied to the HNC because I knew it was the right fit for me. Here at the HNC, my focus has been on China Studies, culminating in a thesis looking at the how post-1949 government policy and digitization has affected social capital and feelings of trust between Chinese citizens.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

After graduation, I want to make a difference in Sino-US relations. Ideally, I would love to work in the political cone as a Foreign Service Officer of the State Department posted in either China or Taiwan. That being said, there are so many great ways to make this impact either through the federal government, think tanks, consulting firms, etc., so I’m excited to see where I decide to go!