Yiran (Erin) Shang: Dear freshman Erin

Author: Yiran (Erin) Shang


Yiran (Erin) Shang, originally from Beijing, China, is a double major in finance and applied mathematics from the Mendoza College of Business. She’s also part of the Greater China Scholars Program and an International Scholar with the Kellogg Institute. She shares her story as part of the International Student Reflection series from the class of 2020.

Dear freshman Erin,

How are you? College senior Erin here, writing four years from now.

First and foremost, congratulations on finding your home under the dome! You’ve come a long way from home – it’s a 13 hour flight each time you travel. I can imagine how excited you must be. I still remember vividly the very first time you saw the dome in person. It was a typical hot and humid summer day in South Bend, and you were so tired and thirsty from walking under the sun with your two gigantic suitcases – that’s all you’ve got ready for your four years ahead. You stopped on the sidewalk to catch your breath and you looked up to see the dome – there she was, as gorgeous and elegant as she could ever be. You couldn’t help but look at it, and even eventually started tearing up.

Throughout the four years, you will have walked under the dome many times and it will never fail to point you in the right direction. You will never get tired of just quietly looking at it while walking past – after you pull all-nighters at Mendoza preparing for your presentations, strolling with your friends after dinner, or feeling exhausted and homesick. You will always just walk around the dome and eventually, you will feel better each time.

You will face many challenges throughout the future four years – many of which you could not have envisioned in high school. They won’t be easy to overcome – you will cry, feel frustrated, lonely and at times even slightly depressed. And these things will challenge you fundamentally – you will rethink about who you are and what you want in life. But you will overcome them eventually and you have lots of amazing people around you to support you. You will continue to develop your interests and embrace new aspects of yourself as they come along. So just be brave – do everything with kindness and courage, and you will not regret the choices you will make throughout the four years.

Right now, you have no idea that the end of your college experience will end quite abruptly because of a pandemic that no one was prepared for, but looking back, you will feel so grateful for your four years under the dome. You have become the person you wanted to be and you have accomplished things that you always wanted to.

So just carry on – beat all the adversity and embrace who you will become. Good luck!

Much love,

College senior Erin