Since receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2014, economics grad Ting (Lorina) Deng has moved back to her home country of China and started her own jewelry business—but that doesn’t mean she’s left her ties to UCI behind. The Beijing-based designer is working closely with the university to help usher in a new generation of international Anteaters—efforts that have helped earn her the distinction of being the 2017 Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Young Alumna.

As an alumni ambassador to China, Deng helps to recruit future students—educating them about the ins and outs of studying abroad, sharing her own experiences as an international student, and singing the praises of UCI from more than 6,000 miles away. And it’s due in large part to alumni like her that UCI’s future is so bright.

What made you want to travel internationally for college?
A desire to see a bigger world, and my family’s support.

Why did you choose UCI?
I have family members who studied at UCI. I was also attracted to the city’s climate, economic environment, and population.

What was your favorite experience as an international student at UCI?
I met my best friends at Middle Earth during my first year. But besides making friends from different backgrounds, my involvements in the arts community (drama shows, dance, exhibitions) at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts were some of my favorite experiences, too.

Did your time at UCI help to prepare you for your current job as a jewelry designer?
Yes! The multicultural education and open art atmosphere fostered my aesthetic and artistic talents. My economics classes gave me a broader perspective and vision for my business development. And my schoolmates are precious resources and offer all-around support.

What made you want to help recruit other students to come to UCI?
It benefits both the students and the university. Also, I like sharing my UCI experience and helping others. There was no reason not to do it.

What do you tell prospective students about UCI?
UCI is a great and vigorous academic institution. You will feel support, opportunities, and kindness all around you. Everything seems possible here.

What is the most common question prospective students ask you?
I’m often asked ‘what major I should select?’ or ‘is my major right?’ I want students to know that a major may be right for the employment market, but not for their hearts. The market may change and their heart may change too so there is no “right” major. I don’t want them to be afraid to try.

Do you have any advice to current students to get the most out of their time here?
Get involved as much as possible. I believe most people will end up switching careers more often than they think and you never know what you will do in the future. Your experiences at the university are like seeds. The more you plant, the more fruits you’ll have to choose from.

—Bria Balliet, UCI School of Social Sciences

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