Columbia, Mo. (Nov. 22, 2019) — Li Yang, who assists dozens of undergraduate students earning dual (“2+2”) degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and top universities in China, received the University of Missouri 2019 International Engagement Award for outstanding staff contribution.
The award recognizes meaningful and sustained commitments to international work, whether directly on campus or brought back to the campus from an engagement abroad.
Yang is an assistant in the School’s Global Programs office. In addition to her work with the school’s 2+2 program, she also assists with visiting professionals and scholars and is actively involved in helping Missouri students participate in the school’s annual China Open Tennis Tournament study abroad program.
“Ms. Yang is the lifeblood of our successful dual degree programs,” said Fritz Cropp, associate dean for Global Programs. “She works tirelessly with the students while they are with us, assisting with everything from course selection to personal counseling. She travels to China routinely to recruit students and to work with our 11 academic partners to make sure coursework taken in China complements the work the students will do at Missouri.”
Yang’s work has yielded impressive results. Over the past 10 years, 72 students have completed the 2+2 program. Twenty-four of the 72 have achieved Kappa Tau Alpha, the highest academic honor possible for journalism students.
According to Associate Professor Amy Simons, Li has been at the center of the School of Journalism’s efforts to welcome, acclimate and advise undergraduate students and visiting scholars from China.
“The students come to look at Li as a mother figure,” Simons says. “She is someone they can turn to when things get rough, they’re feeling homesick, or they just want a sense of something familiar.”
One of the hallmarks of the International Engagement Award is community activity.
Li is committed to this notion. “Every year, she’s in Mizzou’s Homecoming Parade, leading a Chinese lion dance and drum dance,” Simons says.
In fact, it is her love of traditional Chinese dance that drove Li to establish the Chinese Performing Arts Group. The troupe performs folk dances at celebrations across mid-Missouri.
“We are proud of what Li has done so well for so many,” said Cropp. “I am amazed by how selflessly she works on behalf of the students, visiting scholars and colleagues.”
Updated: November 10, 2020