‘The best country’

1 Jun

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When Fangqui Sun moved to Ames, Iowa, to study at Iowa State University, she was overwhelmed by kindness and generosity.

As a graduate student in her native China, Fangqui had been frustrated with her lack of academic choices. Her decision to move to the United States in 1995 for educational and personal freedom was the right one, she says, but not without its challenges.

“I had to leave my family behind, but for my future I could sacrifice a lot of things,” she said.

In Ames, and at Iowa State, she found a “pure American culture” and a place that she could focus on her studies.

“Iowa State has very generous programs for international students,” she said. “I chose Ames as my first choice to go to America.”

Fangqui described her academic preparation – she received a combined master’s degree in economics and statistics in 1997 – as “tremendous.” She landed her first job at Freddie Mac home mortgage company and then moved to New York City to work for American Express, where she built her quantitative skills.

Today she’s a senior vice president for risk management at Citigroup in Wilmington, Del., a position for which she says Iowa State prepared her well.

“Iowa State built for me a solid foundation – solid, not fluffy stuff,” she said. “They prepared my analytical mind to solve any problem.”

Fangqui and her husband, Hong Zhang, a professor at Rowan University, have two children, Peryn, 8, and Helen, 5. Fangqui embraces both her Chinese and American cultures; her children speak Mandarin at home and English at school. She says the Chinese community in Wilmington is not large, but it’s close-knit and the region celebrates the culture with a number of special events.

Fangqui is grateful to Iowa State and to America for providing so many “splendid” opportunities.

“This is the best country in the world,” she says happily. “I am so lucky!”

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