“It was hard because I had never left for so long, but my husband supported me and encouraged me to do what I want to do. It was my dream to finish my master’s degree, and I could not have done it without his assistance,” Fen said.
Fen came to Missouri State in 2010 to join the Executive Option Master of Business Administration program, known as EMBA. The EMBA uses an accelerated format, so students may complete the 33 credit hours in just one year. It was created in 2007 specifically to meet the needs of working Chinese professionals. During the program, students take 11 consecutive four-week courses, interact with guest speakers, take field trips to businesses, learn about the state and regional economy, and participate in social events. The goal is to give them a rich learning and cultural experience.
“The EMBA students are really special. It’s a sacrifice to come over here, to leave jobs and families and complete a graduate program — especially in a second language,” said Dr. David
Meinert, associate dean in the College of Business and director of the EMBA program. “We make sure the program provides a well-rounded foundation to advance their careers.”
Fen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2001 from the South China University of Technology, learned about Missouri State while exploring options for foreign study.
“Fen saw the EMBA as a way to differentiate herself in her career,” Meinert said. “A big part of the degree is learning what it is like to live abroad, especially in the U.S., since many Chinese
companies want employees to have a good working knowledge of the English language and American culture.”
Fen explored outside of the classroom by becoming a football fan, cooking new recipes, hopping around Springfield and studying the Bible at a local church.
But she was here for academics first,and said the program built her confidence while showing her a different style of teaching: In her previous courses, she said, most teachers presented information to the students. In the EMBA, faculty encouraged students to speak out, share their opinions and give the Chinese perspective on economics and marketing.
“That was an adjustment! At first, I was silent and did not say much.”
But Meinert, who taught Fen’s first class — a course in project management, the field in which she now works — encouraged group work, discussions and presentations. Fen began to open up and show her personality.
“She was a great role model in her cohort, always positive, inquisitive and supportive of her classmates,” he said.
Fen, for her part, considers Meinert an inspiring leader. “I remember at the end of the class, he invited all the students to his house to have a big meal. That was really nice.”
Fen is now back in China, working as a project manager for an interior and landscape design company. She was happy to return to her husband, Jackey, a product designer, and daughter, Cindy, 8, (who might follow in her mother’s footsteps and visit the U.S. one day — she just won third prize in a national primary school English competition).
She and Meinert keep in contact through email and MSU events in China.
“When I saw Fen at the alumni reception in Shenzhen, I talked to her about being in the alumni magazine and her eyes lit up,” Meinert said. “She is definitely a proud Missouri State Xióng (that means Bear). It goes to show, you can be a Bear anywhere.”
Fen, who graduated in 2011, said she’ll always remember the pretty campus with its colorful flowers, the autumn weather and the kind professors.
“When I left Missouri State I cried with my friends, but my family is in China so I am glad to be at home! Missouri State is a really good memory.”