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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Student Spotlight: Shuyuan Chen ‘15

A double major in economics and religion, Chen’s advisor calls her the ‘real deal’

Dec. 4, 2014, by Laura Bulman

International students often face a unique set of challenges when they embark on their collegiate career in the United States. But one international student, Shuyuan Chen ’15, is using her experience to help others like her thrive at Syracuse University and at other schools and colleges around the United States. Chen, a dual major in economics and religion, is one of the founders of Intercontinental Scholars (ICS), an international education company with the goal of helping international students bridge the cultural gap as they plan for college in the United States.

“I realized that lacking the language and cultural background are only symptoms of the struggles that international students face; the true reason many students have difficulties is that they do not have an awareness of the cultural gap before they come to this country,” Chen says.

Chen says that ICS, which she and two friends started last December, is quickly coming to fruition. “After researching, visiting schools, holding experimental summer camps, and collecting survey data, we have finished our first curriculum and we are working on our marketing strategy.”

ICS is not Chen’s only endeavor; in fact, to say she has a lot on her plate would be an understatement. She and Marlene Blumin, professor in Syracuse University’s School of Education, plan to co-author a book for Chinese high school students to prepare them for college in the United States. Their book will be based on Blumin’s book It’s All About Choices (Kendall-Hunt 2008).

For Chen, the College of Arts and Sciences has been the perfect place for her to pursue all of her many interests.

“I really appreciate the diverse opportunities,” she says. “My professors are extremely helpful in both academic and career planning and I’ve been able to pursue two distinct majors that interest me. Almost every person who learns my major combination for the first time asks why I made this decision, but almost all of the internship and job offers I have received so far, even those in banking or international business, were interested by both my economics courses and my religion courses.”

Chen’s peers and advisors say she is a special student.

“I met Shuyuan on a drop-in advising visit and was immediately inspired by her passion and intellect,” says Ali Cridge, Chen's academic counselor. “I had never before seen a student with a double major in religion and economics—and thriving in graduate level coursework. Shuyuan is the real deal. She loves learning and has truly made the most of her undergraduate experience.”

Though it was the academics that attracted Chen to Syracuse University, she says she was also intrigued by all of the snow (no, seriously!) and the University’s outstanding athletics. Chen says Syracuse’s extreme seasons were a selling point for her, since it rarely snows in her home city of Yangzhou, China.

A passionate Orange fan, Chen can often be found watching sporting events, and says she’s a huge fan of women’s ice hockey fan.