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International News | November 25, 2020

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Chinese Student Awarded $8,000 Scholarship & Enters ESL LynxDirect Pathway Program

Chinese Student Awarded $8,000 Scholarship & Enters ESL LynxDirect Pathway Program

Imagine arriving in a new country for the very first time, enthusiastically starting your college education on campus, and within just a few months of your arrival, experiencing every class shifting abruptly into remote-only. Add to that the need to adapt quickly to an unexpected health and safety stay-at-home environment due to the global pandemic. Now, imagine staying in this unfamiliar country and city, continuing your studies, and stating that the academic experience has been great, and the people have continued to be welcoming.

Runzhe (Lee) Li was just such a student. He came to the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus from China, persevered amidst the roller-coaster ride of changes, and successfully graduated from the highest level of the CU Denver ESL Academy.

“I’ve now enrolled in the LynxDirect Pathway Program because it will save me time and prepare me even more for my degree program,” Lee explained. “And I can continue to study with my friends and teachers at the ESL Academy.”

Within Lee’s first month of studies at the ESL Academy, he enjoyed forming friendships with students from diverse global regions. He immediately learned everyday words and phrases in Arabic from his Middle Eastern classmates. “We had a joke that I could speak better Arabic than English during those first few months.”

He gained substantial knowledge from each ESL Specialist and commented that he shared something in common with one of the teachers.  “Ali was also not a native English speaker; he especially knew the challenges international students face.”

To complete ESL Level 5, the academic top English language level, students must conduct research, write a 10-page paper using APA formatting, and present in English. With their teachers’ help, the international students have chosen to tackle difficult subjects ranging from artificial intelligence to water scarcity in the U.S. to antibiotic resistance. Lee chose to research the concepts of nationalism and populism.

LynxDirect is an accelerated pathway into degree programs that builds students’ English language skills, saves students time and money, and advances their knowledge to prepare for success at the University of Colorado Denver. International Student Scholarships are available for the LynxDirect Pathway Program. A Fall 2020 Lynx Online Scholarship was also created for eligible newly admitted undergraduate international students and international graduate students who enrolled full-time in online and/or remote courses and confirmed their intention of coming to Denver in Spring 2021 to attend classes on campus. An outstanding ESL student, Lee was awarded an $8,000 scholarship.

“The LynxDirect Pathway Program is a new start…to start!”

Lee plans to enroll in CU Denver in Spring 2021 and live in Denver or Beijing, depending upon several factors. He would like to combine an economics degree with studies in communication. “These two subjects are good basics for research and studying many other subjects,” he explained.

The Office of International Affairs and the ESL Academy have been beneficial, according to Lee. “Before I came to the United States, they sent me many emails with information that prepared me to come here,” he explained.

Along with classroom lessons at the ESL Academy, Lee took part in the twice-weekly informal conversation clubs that continued remotely.  When classes were in-person, Lee and his new friends took advantage of the ESL Academy’s recreational outdoor activities. “I really like snow-tubing; in China, we too like to go skiing and snow-tubing,” he said. “Some of my ESL friends from the Middle East had never seen snow before — it was fun!”

Lee compared the similarities between the Yan mountain range near Beijing and the Rocky Mountains adjacent to Denver and their availability for outdoor recreation.

“Beijing is at a geographic crossroads in northern China. It’s a diverse city, like Denver.” Denver, Colorado, is centrally located in the U.S. and is home to one of the nation’s best international airports. With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year in Denver, people can access 200 parks, 1,000 kilometers of bicycle trails, and scenic mountain areas.

“After the COVID situation is over, I would like to visit the beautiful national parks in the U.S.”

Lee’s family and friends in China are pleased to see that he is becoming a “more independent person” due to his experiences in studying and living in the U.S. “There are many things I can do for myself now, and I will continue to develop.”

Lee began wearing a face mask as soon as the pandemic occurred. He constantly reminded his two roommates to wash their hands, and they jokingly nicknamed him “Grandma.” Students, faculty, and staff at CU Denver have continued to show a high level of responsibility toward the situation and to each other.

“I am thankful to my roommates, neighbors, and teachers; they really helped me to be part of this community,” said Lee.

International as well as American students choose the University of Colorado Denver for many reasons. There are 13 schools and colleges that offer more than 150-degree programs in virtual and on-location formats, giving students plenty of educational and career preparation opportunities. Ranked in the top 5% of universities in the USA, CU Denver has nine graduate programs ranked in the top 100. Eligible graduate-level and undergraduate students build their professional experience through 55 STEM-OPT eligible degree programs.

“My dream job would be in international politics, as a bridge, a link between countries such as the U.S. and China.”

Throughout the months of the global pandemic, the ESL Academy and CU Denver | CU Anschutz have continued to provide international students with an academic and social “home,” both virtually and in-person. Along with people worldwide, students, faculty, and staff are looking forward to better days after the pandemic.

“There is a saying in China that opportunity always follows a challenge.”

To learn more, visit online:

ESL Academy

International Admissions

International Student & Scholar Services