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DU Helped Stacey Get Her Groove Back

January 4, 2018 | Annetta Crecelius

poetryHaving lived in both China and the United States, Shiying "Stacey" Xu considers herself a global citizen, someone who wants to travel and be connected to the world around her. Though, she hasn't always been so confident.

Before college, Xu (BA '17, English and communication studies) attended an all-girls Catholic high school in Massachusetts. She struggled with adjusting to life in a new environment with a host family, far away from her own family in China. For Xu, high school was a long, tough four years that left her uncertain of her future and her ability to succeed after graduation.

Despite her fears, Xu was accepted to several colleges, including the University of Denver. And, after visiting Denver, the choice was clear.

"I didn't even need to visit any other colleges. The moment I stepped onto campus, I knew this was the place. Everyone was so helpful and made me feel welcome," said Xu.

Selecting English as her major—with a concentration in creative writing—was just as easy. Writing has always been a part of her life, something she's always wanted to do. What she didn't expect was that she would pick up a second major in communication studies.

After taking a number of classes outside her major, Xu found her communication studies courses to be the most fascinating. They challenged her to think about herself and others from different perspectives, and to respect those differences.

"What stood out were the topics that we discussed, like gender equality and racism—issues that other classes didn't spend enough time talking about. It was eye-opening," she said.

At DU, Xu found a caring and supportive environment that helped her excel. Small classes allowed her to connect on a more personal level with her professors. She felt encouraged and her confidence grew as she began to receive recognition for her hard work, including a first-year writing award and an outstanding junior award in communication studies.

Outside the classroom, Xu found a job in the University's Writing Center. Though she was the one providing writing support and resources to other students, she too found support, understanding, and encouragement from Juli Parrish, director of the Writing Center. Parrish showed Xu that her ideas and contributions were valued and appreciated.

"Knowing that I could contribute to the University as an international student made me feel really proud because I don't just represent myself, I represent my country."

When Xu began to apply to graduate school, she had difficulty managing all of the logistics, turning to her professors and to the University's Career Services for help. She said that her professors were always willing to talk through academic challenges and how to approach the application process. While Career Services helped her make a plan and prioritize deadlines.

"I think the thing DU does so well is support their students," she said.

Xu's hard work paid off and she finally found her groove. Having recently completed her first semester in Columbia University's MFA Writing Program, Xu is settling into New York and recently adopted a puppy named Nicholas. She's hopeful for the future and looking forward to traveling and exploring possibilities in New York and beyond.

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