Yuanfeng Zhou ’19

When Yuanfeng (Vivian) Zhou ’19 left the city lights, 24 million people and authentic Chinese cuisine in Shanghai, she was entering her junior year at Apex High School in Apex, North Carolina. Now, as a degree-seeking international student at UNCW, Zhou has found her own piece of home right here in Wilmington.

“I think being away from home makes me more aware of my goals,” she said. “The absence of everything I am familiar with, not just good Chinese food, of course, has to be for a good cause. People always ask me why I decided to come to UNCW. Wilmington is actually the first American city I visited, so maybe it was meant to be.”

Starting a new chapter at UNCW gave Zhou the opportunity to grow in unexpected ways. “This is the one thing I love about my stay here in the United States,” she said. “Although I set out to experience America, I got to experience more cultures in one place as a bonus.”

In September 2015, Zhou became an International Student Ambassador and was able to provide her own insights for prospective international students. She also joined Sigma Alpha Lambda, a national leadership and honors association. Along with other fellow students, Zhou is in the process of creating a Chinese club on campus that will be dedicated to helping Chinese students at UNCW acclimate to their new surroundings.

In her free time, Zhou enjoys exploring downtown Wilmington and participating in outdoor activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding with the Seahawk Adventures program, a recreation group at UNCW that brings together active students to enjoy exciting and challenging physical activities.

“I see UNCW as an opportunity for me to develop myself as much as I can,” said Zhou. “There are so many resources to make use of on campus.”

After graduation, she plans to work at an American-based business in China – preferably Shanghai.

“I want to settle down back home, but I would also like a job that allows me to travel back and forth,” she said. “UNCW means a new chapter of this American adventure for me, and a new home that I love.”

-- Lauren Henderson 15