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January 8, 2021 Jim Warner
Ruomei Wang and giraffe

“I never dreamed that I was going to study in the U.S. I was watching the [2016] election with my dad at home [in China] and didn’t know that I’d be watching the next presidential election here [in Louisville]!” Four years and half a world away — a span of miles and time allows for both discovery and growth. Ruomei Wang is a senior CIS major at the College of Business.

During her time at UofL, she has grown from a student who was admittedly shy and concerned about her fluency with English to be a student mentor, a leader in the Chinese Scholars Union, and a help desk intern for KFC, communicating with KFC professionals nationwide daily. What emerges from the years of discipline and dedication is a young professional who is grateful for the opportunities presented to her, and her commitment, in turn, to honoring those opportunities through serving her immediate community.

Ruomei’s academic record and awards are clear testimony to her work ethic; Dean’s Scholar, multiple scholarships, a 3.94 cumulative GPA. For Ruomei, none of these accolades would be possible if it weren’t for the many mentors that held the doors open for her. These opportunities began with UofL professor Wei-Bin Zing visiting China on behalf of the Sister Cities Young Scholars. “I was the only student selected from my school,” says Wang. “I couldn’t even believe it!”

Beyond the classroom or the internship, Ruomei helped to revitalize the Chinese Scholars Union (CSU) at UofL, working with several of her newfound friends to share the culture and experiences Chinese students bring with them to our cardinal Community. She has become a fixture in the student community—not only sharing her UofL experience with potential Chinese students, but working as a translator and peer tutor for REACH. As president of the CSU, Ruomei helped coordinate much needed COVID-19 supplies to UofL’s Chinese student population. “The Chinese Embassy reached out to me at the start of the pandemic, and we were able to help get students masks, hand sanitizer, and other supplies. Even though I was not on campus, it was great to help my classmates get what they needed.” Another connection Ruomei helped build was connecting job recruiters with her fellow Chinese students. “G.E. reached out to [CSU] to hire more Asian students. We put on an event with the Speed School…one of my friends is a finance major who got an internship position at the session.” While she left her official tutor position at the University to pursue her KFC internship, Ruomei’s commitment to her fellow students remain as she still remains as the CSU president.

Interning for KFC has been a dream come true for Ruomei. “When I was little, any time there was a holiday or celebration, my family took me to KFC. It was my favorite place to go,” says Wang. “After I came to the U.S., everything seemed so strange and so new, but the moment I saw KFC, I felt better because that was something I could relate to.” Since starting last summer, Ruomei has been applying her CIS education in fixing disk backup failures, managing Windows services, and helping to document and solve software and hardware issues. Beyond the textbook, it’s the intangibles that Ruomei feels have been the most surprising part of her work experience. “UofL has given me the ability to trust my problem-solving skills. I just feel confident that I can figure out challenges [at the IT help desk].”

Ruomei’s interest in IT started at an early age. “I was attracted to IT since I was really, really young…I would watch my mom make PowerPoint slides and spreadsheets, and I became interested [in doing that too],” said Wang. Ruomei’s curiosity was further fueled in middle school as she began to help repair and service A/V and tech equipment at her school. “When teachers would see me, they’d say ‘Oh it’s the girl who fixes all the computers.’” While that desire to learn remained, the opportunities were limited. “My IT teacher wasn’t interested in teaching me because I was a girl,” explained Wang — a digital glass ceiling that did not deter her from learning. “I trust in girls’ ability to do anything and still believe in women in technology. I am always talking to my female CIS professors.” One of those Ruomei sees as a mentor is instructor Dr. Haleh Karimi. “She invited me to attend the Women in Technology Awards in December — I was so inspired by everyone there!”

Ruomei is ready for her next adventure—graduate school with the goal of one day being a professor. “My mom teaches English and human resources. Colleges are about lifelong learning, and I would love to get to help students that have a passion to learn.” Ruomei is also looking to see what opportunities look like beyond UofL. “I love Louisville and the people and UofL, but I want to experience other cities. I’m so new [to America] I want to know what’s out there and try out something new.”

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