Mei Ling Messner ('17)

Mei Ling Messner ('17)

1. Please tell us a little about yourself!

I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona and now live in the Bay Area. I graduated from Wellesley in 2017 as an Economics major and a Chinese Culture and Language minor.

2. Why did you decide to become a Chinese Language and Culture minor? How did it shape your experience at Wellesley?

I started off by taking CHIN 101 during my first semester at Wellesley. I was always interested in studying Mandarin and felt like it would be a good way to fulfill my language requirement. As I progressed with the subject, I started to realize that I wanted to go abroad to China to work on my language skills and increase my understanding of the Chinese culture. As a result, I started taking more than the exploratory amount of language and culture classes, and realized that a Chinese minor made sense given my interests and amassed credits.

Studying Chinese Language and Culture shaped my experience at Wellesley in several ways. First, taking Chinese gave me a great foundation for all of my studying habits I developed while at Wellesley. Keeping up with five Chinese classes a week was a real struggle for me at first, but I made it through my first semester by figuring out how I learned best, leaning on my language assistant/professor for help and also acknowledging that Mandarin is a hard language to learn and that language acquisition takes time.  Secondly, taking as many Chinese courses as I did also allowed me to study abroad in Shanghai. This was a pivotal experience for me. My language improved immensely and I emerged from that experience with a greater confidence in myself, increased understanding of modern-day China and a deeper awareness of my own Asian American experience. Finally, I met several of my closest friends through my Chinese classes. The relationships I forged with both my classmates and professors in the department were so instrumental in my growth and development both during my time at Wellesley and after!

3. What are you doing now?

After spending a few years working in consulting, I now work in Human Resources at a large tech firm.

4. How has your Wellesley experience and your minor influenced your life/career after college?

Studying Chinese gave me not only a understanding of the language and culture, but a sensitivity and greater understanding for people who have different backgrounds than myself, which is so important in any type of work.  While I don’t directly use the Chinese language in any of my day-to-day work, my time studying Chinese and living in China helped me become more aware of my own cultural biases and more open of differences, which is pivotal to have when dealing with different personalities and audiences in the “real world.”

My undergraduate experience has influenced many pivotal decisions in my life and has perpetually pushed me to take risks and go outside of my comfort zone.  Moreover, entering the “real world” has shown me how special (and rare!) it is to have an experience like Wellesley. I feel fortunate to be a part of an amazing network of women who continually work to lift each other up and empower each other.