For her junior year of high school, Sirui Hu decided to take a step outside her comfort zone - a big one. The Shenzhen, China teen went abroad her junior and senior year and landed in Orange County. And when her high school offered a joint summer program that brought her to UCI to explore campus and meet new students, she fell in love with the campus and its inclusive culture.

“The welcoming and inclusive environment and the beautiful central park of UCI left me with an unforgettable impression,” she says. She applied and was accepted to UCI as a freshman majoring in quantitative economics where she’s been pursuing her passion for understanding data in a digitally driven world.

“The explosion of data in our digital world opens up more positions for analytics and data scientists,” she says. “I chose quantitative economics because I love how this major combines the knowledge of economics and statistics to ensure both domain knowledge and analytical skills.”

She soon picked up a double major in data science so she could develop a strong foundation in coding which has helped her greatly in processing large amounts of data. She also learned that visiting professors during office hours would help ease her shyness so that she’d feel more comfortable expressing opinions and asking questions in class.  

“My professors have all been very friendly and they encourage students to express opinions. By taking various courses at UCI, I also got to build my leadership skills by collaborating with different students in group projects,” she says.

She gained solid research experience alongside professors Harding and Rahmani which helped her develop her own economics honors research project on student and parents’ willingness to pay for higher education. And, following commencement next week, she’ll be going on to Harvard for her master’s degree in data science.

“I’m so grateful my mother encouraged me to study abroad to meet different people and learn new cultures,” Hu says. “Even though I became more independent and mature as I studied alone abroad, her support along the way always motivated me to study and work hard while being open-minded.”

With her last year at UCI spent online due to COVID, Hu counts her time in-person on campus among her best Anteater experiences. However, as she gets ready to move to Cambridge, Hu is already looking forward to coming back to UCI in the future to see how much the campus changes.

“Our campus is still refreshing – even when it was online. I look forward to the future when I come back to visit and get the opportunity to enter our newly constructed buildings and revisit the redesigned landscapes at our central park.”

Congrats, Sirui, on all you’ve accomplished, and congrats to the graduating class of 2021!

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