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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Chengpeng Mou '11

Hometown: Chengdu, China

Majors: Economics and Mathematics

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Williams Investment Society (WIS)
  • National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA)
  • University-Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra
  • Shepherd Poverty Program Service Trip
  • Student Association for International Learning (SAIL)

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Internship at Sands Capital Management, Equity Research (Summer 2010)
  • Intern at the Chicago Field Museum, Endowment Management (Summer 2009)
  • Internship with U.S. Congress, Senate Banking Committee (Spring 2009)
  • R.E. Lee Research on Molecular Motors with Professor Irina Mazilu (Summer 2008)
  • Study Abroad in Barbados and St. Vincent & Grenadines (Spring 2008)

Post-Graduation Plans: Investment Banking, M&A Advisory in Chicago

Favorite W&L Memory: International Student Orientation held when I first came to the school

Favorite Class: Late Professor Joan O'Mara's 19th Century European Art

Favorite W&L Event: Washington Spring Term with Professor Bill Connelly

Favorite Campus Landmark: Robinson Hall

Everyone seems to think of his or her own alma mater as the finest college on earth, but the prejudice might actually have some truth in the case of W&L. Whether it's erudite and friendly professors or an ODAC champion football team, some aspect of this institution always generates students' love for it. To me, W&L's effort to push liberal arts education out of the ivy-covered walls and into the broader world is truly remarkable and foretelling of a 21st century liberal arts education.

The school encourages students to study abroad, and most students take advantage of this opportunity. Coming from Chengdu, China, I am already studying "abroad" at W&L, but I further challenged myself by taking a spring term trip to Barbados and St. Vincent. Through talks by local scholars and rigorous readings, professors and students together explored the two former British colonies. Lively class discussions covered topics like racial dynamics where blacks were the majority and the Bajans' psychological struggle with serving European tourists today professionally without reminding themselves of a shameful colonial past. Inside the classroom, the seminars were thought-provoking; outside, the scuba-diving was awe-inspiring. Who could've asked for more?

The administration has also seeks to engage students in broader communities through extracurricular activities. During my sophomore February break, I went to Birmingham for five days as part of a service trip for the Shepherd Poverty Program. We volunteered at several local non-profit institutions and helped many underprivileged community members. The experience exposed me to a more "realistic" depiction of the American society and made me realize the necessity of greater societal responsibilities from all individuals.

In addition, the Williams School offers students abundant internship opportunities to apply their analytical abilities to the real world. During the past three summers, I have drafted memos about Senate hearings for legislative assistants on Capitol Hill; calculated the budget for the global tour of the world's biggest tyrannosaurus, Sue, at Chicago Field Museum; and constructed earnings models for some of the world's most successful businesses at an investment management firm based in Washington, D.C. Such diverse experiences have helped me to appreciate the power of a well-rounded education in an age that honors creative and analytical thinking.

Needless to say, none of these would have been possible without countless loyal alumni who treat W&L students as extended family members and want to see them succeed, professors who genuinely enjoy imparting wisdom to students more than hiding in research labs, or an Honor System that fundamentally defines who we are and bonds us all together with a feeling of trust. To every one of us, there is much for which to feel grateful.

When I submitted my application to W&L towards the end of high school, the idea of a liberal arts education was as foreign to me as calling football "soccer". Merely four years later, I find it hard to stop when talking about how wonderful my time at W&L has been. But then again, who doesn't?