Yisikandaier Aireti grew up in a remote town in the Uyghur region of China, where those who sought a good education had no other choice but to leave home. For Yisikandaier, it meant traveling 72 hours by train to attend middle school in Guangdong and then even farther to get his undergraduate degree in civil engineering at Jiaotong University in Beijing.
It was there that Yisikandaier became interested in finance, which meant logging even more miles in pursuit of education. He chose St. John’s University, where he is currently a graduate student in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
Initially, Yisikandaier took part in Campus Colleagues, a peer to peer program designed to integrate students studying English as a second language with the Office of International Education (OIE) to the programs they will enter at Tobin once they achieve language proficiency. In regular meetings with his “campus colleague,” who is a graduate student volunteer, he learned about the St. John’s academic community and services, and the expectations and daily life of a Johnny.
“Learning in China is mostly listening to the teachers and preparing for the exam,” he said. “In expecting students to express their own ideas, St. John’s language educators provided me with a new and challenging experience.” He has also been surprised by the availability of his teachers given that direct student-teacher interaction is not the norm in China. Yisikandaier said that the OIE gave him the necessary English and sound academic knowledge he needed to prepare for his master’s degree.
With his newly acquired language and culture skills, Yisikandaier has switched places and is now a campus colleague; he feels proud to be able to help fellow international students with the same problems he experienced. These skills, along with his asset management and financial accounting classes, landed Yisikandaier an internship this summer, where he worked with portfolio managers to analyze stocks. He particularly valued the hands-on experience of his internship, which inspired him to dive into solving real-world problems.
Yisikandaier dreams of a future where he has a healthy work-life balance and believes the academic guidance, career services, and alumni resources at St. John’s will be instrumental in helping him prepare for the next step of his academic and professional journey.