First, a little about me. This August, 2015, I started my first year as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toledo. I received my Ph.D. in Geography from LSU in December, 2014. It’s been a major transition from being a graduate student to a faculty member. I still remember the feeling of happiness when I was accepted into the Ph.D. program at LSU, my life as an international student during that first semester, and the moment when I learned that my first journal paper had been accepted…I want to say that my experience at LSU provided the most treasurable years of my life.
Louisiana State University is the flagship university in Louisiana, and a globally recognized, excellent institution. I love this university because there is always something to do. The Department of Geography & Anthropology provided me four years of graduate assistantship. The experience I had at LSU as a teaching and research assistant was invaluable, and prepared me well for my professional career. The travel award from the graduate school and the department to attend academic conferences was extremely helpful to my career, enabling me to share my ideas and inspiration by personally presenting my research and to create connections with researchers of similar interests. My first job was at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. Although it has a slightly different perspective, my research experience had prepared me to deal with unfamiliar topics. Working as a teaching assistant for different professors every semester, I learned and observed many different teaching styles, which prepared me to work well with both undergraduate and graduate students, which was excellent experience to apply to my current position. In addition to the strong academic atmosphere within the Department of Geography & Anthropology, the comfortable family-like environment was also greatly appreciated. The Welcome party, Mardi Gras party, Crawfish boil, Christmas party…all of these provided excellent opportunities for students and faculty to interact with each other and relax.
Sometimes, you may feel stressed out and there may seem to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Life is not always easy, but if you are doing something you’re interested in and passionate about, you’ll find a way to make it work. I remember a time when I ran an experimental model more than 50 times and I was about to give up, but I did finally succeed. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. The professors in the department are very nice and supportive. I received a lot of help from my major professor Dr. Fahui Wang. I still remember what he said: “Yes, I am busy, but students are the most important factor to keep me busy, and I always have time for my students.” My critical thinking, writing and communication skills have greatly improved under Dr. Wang’s supervision. Dr. Lei Wang helped me develop technical skills and writing skills for producing journal papers. I feel so lucky to have these professors as my mentors and lifelong friends.
I am immensely happy and grateful that I can share my experience as a LSU alumna. My pride and love for this great university is endless. I’m grateful to the department for the opportunities and funding that I have been given, and I am excited to continue my research interests and strengths at a new university. Wishing all my friends at LSU good luck, have fun and Geaux Tigers!