Seniors Host Student Panel for Freshmen

As the seniors return from their semesters of studying away, they're sharing their advice and experience with the new Class of 2020.

Furthering the excitement of having all four classes on campus for the first time, Orientation 2016 featured a student panel led by seniors on Aug 24. Six members of the Class of 2017, namely Tyler Rhorick, Stephanie Ulan, Fikret Halilov, Xiran Yang, Krista Young, and Kevin Pham, spoke about their experiences being part of the inaugural class of NYU Shanghai, reflecting on what the Class of 2020 can learn from their journey thus far. The panel, titled “Hindsight is 2020”, served as an opportunity for the seniors to advise the freshmen on what they wish they could have done differently as freshmen.

Four major discussion questions for the speakers were introduced to get a range of perspectives: adjusting to NYU Shanghai as a Chinese vs international student, as well what it took to succeed academically at NYU Shanghai and what it meant to come to terms with one’s own personal failures.

The first panelist, Xiran Yang, talked about her experience adjusting to NYU Shanghai as a Chinese student, hailing from a predominantly homogenous province. As someone who was rather reserved at first but felt pressured by her peers to be outgoing and active, Yang informed against doing things just for the sake of making friends. The second discussion, led by Kevin Pham and Krista Young, focused on adjusting from the perspective of international students, highlighting the fears and hopes related to coming to China for college.

Fikret Halilov then talked about his successes in learning Chinese, mentioning that he came to NYU Shanghai with no Chinese at all but is not in the advanced level through sheer passion and interest. “You will leave NYU Shanghai with some level of Chinese whether you want to or not,” Halilov stated. Stephanie Ulan then talked about her struggle adjusting to NYU Shanghai, focusing on the fact that everyone will take their own time to adjust to NYU Shanghai. Ulan provided a personal anecdote of the difference between her GPA in freshmen year versus junior year, encouraging freshmen to not give up just because the beginning is difficult.

The panel ended with moderator Tyler Rhorick talking about how the point of NYU Shanghai is to put yourself out of your comfort zone, explaining that he changed his major in his third year to feel more challenged.

The discussion was followed up by questions from the audience. The panel was received well by students and staff for its comfortable yet informative atmosphere. Freshmen Yaman Al Marrawi commented, “The seniors have seen NYU Shanghai rise firsthand, and they have always been an integral part of the university’s success. We, as a legacy, ought to build upon their work and learn from their experiences to further crystallize the NYU’s global vision.”

This article was written by Lathika Chandra Mouli. Please send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Lathika Chandra Mouli

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