“If I worked for Apple, I would want to focus on hardware improvements,” says Yao. He decided to move toward that goal by enrolling at Concordia. “I enjoy it, though it was all quite new for me when I started. It takes getting used to,” he says.
Yao is now a second-year undergraduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.
Yao’s hometown is Chengdu, in the Chinese province of Sichuan. As he points out, it’s an area world-renowned for its iconic black-and-white bears. “It’s a part of China that’s famous for its pandas,” says Yao.
A first challenge for Yao was improving his English. “I get around that by reading books more than others and studying hard,” says Yao.
Beyond his years
Another factor is being younger than his fellow students by a significant margin.
“I passed physics and chemistry exemption exams,” he says.
Leapfrogging over those courses plus entering Concordia straight from secondary school in China means that much of his cohort are older than him.
Support goes a long way — especially when it comes to the higher tuition costs international students face. Yao receives the Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Chan Scholarship, funded by Andrew Chan, BComm 77, and his wife through the Concordia University Hong Kong Foundation.
The funds, he says, “free up time for me to study at school, and helps my parents,” says Yao. His family in China assists him financially. Yao received the award based partially on his academic achievement — and his strong grades have continued at Concordia.
To date, he has received top marks in all of his math courses, which he’s taken as part of an extended credit option.
Yao hopes to begin working part time in the near future. “I would like to be a math tutor,” he says. “I want to help international students and make new friends.”