Intrigued by the “business side of fashion,” Angelina Li, a recent EF Academy New York grad, is now pursuing her BBA degree at Parsons School of Design. She graduated in 2016 with IGCSE qualifications and an IB Diploma. Check out her Q&A to learn more about her smooth transition from high school to university:
What was your first impression of EF Academy?
When I first joined EF Academy, we were still on the Tarrytown campus. When I visited the campus before I made my decision, I thought it was so nice and there were people from so many different places. That’s what I loved the most – there was such a variety of cultures and I spoke to people I never would have met if I hadn’t attended EF Academy. It’s so international!
What did you enjoy about living in the residence?
The residence felt like a home – I got to live with different people and we took care of each other. When we moved to the new campus, we had the student café that the student government ran and they sold their own food. There was also an area that served snacks, that was run by the Business Club. Everyone was doing something for the campus, and in residence I saw them every day and I lived with them.
What activities were you involved in at EF Academy?
I was involved in putting on the Lunar New Year ceremony. It’s basically a show that students from the Asian countries who celebrate it come together and create a performance for all of the students. It’s a way to show the costumes from different countries and the ways they celebrate the New Year holiday. I felt very proud to be part of the activity. The first year I did it, I decided to do my dance with a Taiwanese student because that is something that has never happened before – usually, all the countries did their part of the performance separately. But I felt like it was time to do something different, so I asked people if it was okay to work with other countries so that we could mix the cultures a bit. And people liked the idea so I did a dance with a friend from Taiwan and people were so happy about and I’m still happy about it.
Tell me about your program at Parsons…
They call it a BBA program, it’s more like the business side of the fashion industry. Most people know Parsons because of its fashion design program, and so my program is for the people who stand behind the designer and promote their work, advertise and brand it. It’s funny because when I first heard about Parsons, it was from a student who graduated before me, and she told me how great the school was and she told me how this program would be a good one for me. I checked it out while I was thinking about where to go and it felt like the right fit. I wanted to be in the fashion industry but I didn’t want to limit what I was doing to just the designing. I studied economics and business when I was in the IB program at EF Academy and so that has been helpful as I’ve started the program.
What has the transition from high school to university been like?
It’s completely different from high school, it’s very busy but I love it so much. That’s how I realized that it’s really important to apply to a school and a program that you like. At Parsons, everyone does the same thing their first year and you use different materials and learn different skills, and it’s really fun. After the first year is when you start to specialize and get into what it is that you actually want to do.
Did you do any internships that have benefited your studies or your career plan?
I was part of a Chinese leadership program called Capable Teens for almost four years, from 2011 to 2015. Basically, the program is about creating stuff together, as a group or team, and how Chinese kids can express themselves. In China, people don’t know what they want for their futures, but it’s different in the U.S. Here, parents teach their kids how to plan for their futures when they are young, but in China, it’s different and that’s why the program was created. I went to this program because it was created by one of my mom’s friends and this state of mind about how to manage yourself and cooperate with people as a team, learning that being a leader is not being in control but knowing how to listen to people, is important to know. I felt like my experience in the program has helped me a lot in life– especially when you’re at EF Academy and at Parsons, because you need to know how to be open minded and positive.
What advice do you have for current students?
Find out what you want to do. That’s the most important thing. Find out what’s important to you so that you can fight for it and make plans for it. When you do the IB, you think you have enough time but sometimes you don’t. the IB is hard and you have to know how to manage your time. Don’t forget to talk to people and the teachers and ask them how you’re doing. That’s really important. You need to know what your plan is for the future.
What is your favorite part about university?
My favorite part is that I can really learn a lot! It’s simple, but it’s true. At Parsons, we do everything. I’ve made film, I’ve constructed a building out of wood, I even published books with my own work.
What is the accomplishment you are proudest of?
In 2015, together with my Capable Teen group members, we came up with a solution to change the plans of a real estate company. They had purchased an island in China and had constructed a residence area on it, but they weren’t sure what to do with the second part of the land. They thought maybe younger people had different ideas, so we found a new way to use the land by creating a building that was a university plaza. Our goal was to bring university students together by giving them an area where they can meet. The real estate company took our advice and they’re going forward with the plans. We were awarded with a certificate – being part of the project was so great that we didn’t expect more.
What is your dream for your future?
I don’t expect to be really famous, but I want to be successful in the fashion industry. Students in my program are not meant to be designers, so it’s challenging, but I want to do something like work in a big company – a company that everyone knows. I don’t know what my future plans are but I’ll probably get a Master’s Degree – I’m planning on doing an internship after Parsons and then go back to China. The fashion industry here is much more developed and I want to bring some of the ideas back to China. This is just starting in China – Fashion Week is a new thing there – and from what I’ve seen, I don’t think they’re doing it right. I’d like to bring advice and my experiences to help them.
Anything to add…
I’m really thankful to have been part of EF Academy because it’s a great opportunity to meet people. I’m a very outgoing person and I have friends from so many different countries. Anytime I go somewhere, I know someone. I have friends all over, and that’s very valuable, it’s a network.
Home country: China
Languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, English
EF Academy campus: New York
Program: IGCSE and IB Diploma
Grad year: 2016
Favorite activity: Lunar New Year
Favorite subjects: Economics & Business
University: Parsons School of Design, Strategic Design and Management (BBA)