An Opinion That Matters

PROVO, Utah – Mar 08, 2021 – Living in a foreign country halfway across the world can be daunting. Some people who choose to live abroad often learn to speak a foreign language and adapt to a new culture; such challenges didn’t stop Joy Shu from pursuing her dream to work in business and attend the BYU Marriott School of Business—an experience that became possible because of an alumni network that reached all the way to China.

Shu, a BYU Marriott finance graduate and rotational software engineer at Facebook, first learned about BYU from a friend her father worked with. “My father’s friend said that BYU had one of the best business programs in the United States and the tuition was affordable,” says Shu. “This friend shared that all three of his children attended BYU and that I wouldn’t regret going to school there.” Shu was more than six thousand miles from Provo, but she trusted her father’s friend and applied. 

“My spoken English was not the best when I decided I would attend BYU,” Shu remembers. However, instead of feeling discouraged and giving up, Shu felt determined to work hard and improve her language skills. “I thought to myself, ‘I need to improve my English and be prepared, because going to the United States is not like going to Disneyland.’”

When Shu arrived at BYU, she not only had to learn a different language but also had to adjust to a new way of living. To make this process easier, she chose to live with American roommates to immerse herself in the English language and American culture. “I was lucky to have good roommates during my first two years who helped me feel at home in a new country. Those experiences together helped us become best friends.” 

While Shu anticipated she would experience some culture shock, what she didn’t expect was how she would need to adjust to a new “classroom culture.”

Growing up, Shu was accustomed to a culture that she describes as one that did not support individualism. However, after taking a public speaking class and participating in class projects at BYU, she learned the importance of sharing her opinion. Working in teams with other students was initially difficult for Shu, but she expresses gratitude for her many peers, who helped her feel needed and valued her opinion. “My teammates included me in everything to help me feel comfortable sharing my opinion,” she says. “In the beginning, I didn’t talk much. Now I am willing to share my opinion in whatever group I work with.”

After graduating from BYU Marriott with her bachelor’s degree in 2014, Shu received her master’s degree in information systems from the University of Utah in 2016 and began her career. After working for a several different companies, including Goldman Sachs where she worked as a software engineer, she moved to Facebook where she now works. As someone who was once afraid to voice her thoughts in a group setting, Shu has seen growth in herself and believes everyone should be able to share their thoughts when working as part of a team. “If you don’t voice your opinion, nobody knows what you’re doing. You're buried among everyone else,” she says.

Aside from challenges she faced in adjusting to new cultural expectations when she left her home in China, Shu also had to build a professional network. However, she recalls that reaching out to BYU Marriott alumni made the process of making new connections easy. “BYU and the BYU Marriott School of Business have strong alumni networks,” she says. “In every profession, you can find outstanding BYU graduates who are willing to help you.”

Even years after graduating, Shu still sees fellow BYU alumni as family. “Whenever I see a BYU alum, I have a feeling that person is going to be kind and easy to talk to,” she says. “I also feel more comfortable reaching out to them because I know we have a shared connection and experience because of our time at BYU.”

Now living in Salt Lake City, Shu is part of the same alumni network that showed her kindness while she was an undergrad. “I hope to help BYU students as much as I can,” she says. “I’m so grateful for the experiences and professors I had at BYU Marriott. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

Joy Shu
Joy Shu. Photo Courtesy of Joy Shu.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Rebecca Nissen