University of Calgary

Trip down memory lane

UToday HomeJuly 30, 2012

Alumna Stephanie Xiao Liang, PhD, visits with her former University of Calgary supervisor Ian Winchester during a recent visit to campus. Photo by Betty RiceAlumna Stephanie Xiao Liang, PhD, visits with her former University of Calgary supervisor Ian Winchester during a recent visit to campus. Photo by Betty RiceStephanie Xiao Liang was back in Calgary last month, taking the opportunity to reconnect with some of the professors who guided her through her studies when she earned her PhD in education in 2003.

She first discovered the University of Calgary when education professor Ian Winchester and professor Yunnan Xiao of China’s Hunan University set up an exchange program for Chinese students to come to Calgary to finish their master’s degrees.

While here, Xiao Liang applied for admission into the Faculty of Education for her PhD studies, as she felt a program at the University of Calgary would give her the tools she needed to undertake a comparative study of educational systems in China and Canada.

It was tough going for her at first as she worked to adapt to cultural and academic differences, as well as the simple differences in daily life.

“Chinese people like to hang out with friends and families. Here I had a heavy load of academics and not many friends with whom to socialize, especially at the beginning,” says Xiao Liang

“I was very homesick and even considered dropping out. But my professors encouraged me, and I connected with classmates and friends. The staff in the faculty was always smiling and easy-going, too, and before long, I was invited to a variety of social and academic events, and then my studies went well.

“It is obvious that a supportive atmosphere is the basis of an international student’s academic achievement.”

With her PhD completed, Stephanie returned to China. Today, she is an associate professor of English and education at Hunan Business College. She stays in touch through research connections with former professors and colleagues, and through her personal efforts of promoting Canada and the University of Calgary by establishing more exchanges between scholars and students here and in China.

“I also keep up to date through U Magazine and ArchE as well as the alumni branch in China,” she says. “And through my visits back to Canada via different programs.”

Xiao Liang thinks often about her experiences on campus, and says she will always be grateful for the people she met and her course of study.

“I hope that the university is going to thrive for many, many years to come, with sufficient endeavor made to facilitate international communications,” she says. “I hope all the professors and friends here are happy, healthy and enjoy every day. I hope that I can make more contributions to the promotion and development of the University of Calgary, where I once belonged and to which I will belong for the rest of my life.”