While turning 21 is a major milestone, Ming Wei has much to celebrate at the age of 20.
Along with being on track to graduate debt-free with his associate degree from St. Louis Community College, Wei recently received notification that his application to become a U.S. citizen has been approved. For the Taiwan-born student, this is welcomed news as he has lived in America for nearly half his life.
“I moved to St. Louis with my mom when I was 11,” he said. “Since then, I’ve attended school and have worked hard to learn the language and assimilate into American culture.”
Although he would have liked to have applied for his citizenship earlier, U.S. law required him to wait until he turned 18.
“It can be a long process, but it’s worth it,” he said. “I am proud to be a U.S. citizen because I value what this country stands for and I believe in the ideology that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
With his citizenship approved and his naturalization ceremony set for late spring, Wei looks forward to putting his first language, Mandarin Chinese, to good use. After college, he would like to pursue a career in the global business market.
“I have aspirations of working for an international corporation as a certified public accountant,” he said. “In order to make my career dreams a reality, it’s important for me to graduate from college with the least amount of debt as possible. That’s why I chose to start at STLCC. It was a practical option.”
After graduating from Lafayette High School, Wei enrolled at STLCC through the A+ Scholarship program. Next fall, he intends to transfer to the University of Missouri-St. Louis to complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Although many of his friends enrolled in four-year colleges immediately after high school, Wei doesn’t regret his decision to start at a community college.
“I really feel like STLCC has prepared me to transfer to four-year institution,” he said. “The classes are small, the professors are credentialed and I know they care about my success. Best of all, STLCC has provided me with a number of opportunities to grow and develop my leadership skills.”
Among these, Wei is president of the Business Club and an active member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. He also performs regularly at campus Open Mic Nights and has participated in a number of service-learning projects with the Volunteers of Wildwood student organization. Outside of STLCC, he holds a part-time job at a local home improvement store and plays guitar in a rock band with some friends.
“I know there are a number of different ways to pay for college, but I’ve been focusing on earning good grades and taking an active role on campus,” he said. “I hope my hard work will pay off in the form of a transfer scholarship.”
Karen Butery, Ph.D., adjunct instructor at STLCC-Wildwood, described Wei as a top-notch student who is wise beyond his years.
“In my class, Ming was a dedicated and hard-working student,” she said. “He went above and beyond to ensure that he understood the course material and was prepared for class. I know he is capable of achieving whatever he sets his mind to, and I wish him all the best in the future.”