How Professor Ivy’s story has greatly inspired me as an international student

by Kexin Li

May 9, 2022


I had an interview with Professor Julia Ivy, Northeastern Professor in International Business and Strategy. Professor has extensive global experience in Ukraine/ Vietnam/ Australia/ United States. She is originally from Belarus and has an established career before moving directly to the U.S. She has years of teaching experience, she was a top-rated executive professor, coach, consultant, and board member, but she must start over in the U.S, and in her words, “As a newcomer, I had to build my professional life from the scratch. I did it. And I learned how all of us, newcomers, could do it well.”

Her greatest cultural challenge is jumping out her comfort zone to embrace a new language/ norm/country, even though the loneliness is inevitable. Professional wise, she needs to redefine her core as a professional. She wishes her had known that people in the U.S are less interested in what it is like outside the U.S as she expected. Her lesson from global leadership is the necessity of bridging her past and current to capitalize her strengths and be a unique global talent. Her advice for future global talent, especially for international students, is starting from knowing self, defining what cards we have at hand, connecting our past and current, then try different things with confidence.


Professor Ivy’s story has greatly inspired me, as an international student, and hopefully a future global leader, I feel Professor Ivy’s words in my ways. Moved from China to Boston last September, I have been curious, excited, lonely, homesick, cultural shocked, and sometimes disappointed. The excitement about the whole new country was soon washed up by heavy school life and many uncomfortable adjustments I have to make. I have noticed that it is common among international students, especially those who come from Asia or Middle East, like to stay with their groups. This is understandable because due to the barrier of language/culture, and human nature, staying in comfort zone is almost a safe choice.


However, I position myself as a future global leader, and I am aware of the necessity of jumping out of my comfort zone to embrace a new country. I answered the question in a class for the first time, talked to a local student for the first time, and even interviewed a professor for the first time. Though seems significant, the small things are components and steppingstones of my self-breakthrough.


I know there are power inside me, because I have come all the way from my motherland to another country pursuing better education and opportunities, all I need to do is to connect what I have achieved in the past  and  what I am learning and experiencing now then take this connection to another level. Professor Ivy told me, “Accept yourself and find out your core, make your way, instead of being made by external environment.” I am deeply touched by her wise advice. It is true that we all have some “immigrant mindset”, we don’t want to forget who we are while chasing dream; and we need to build cultural agility to find the balance of our core and a new norm, and be a mindful, empathetic global talent; and we are hard-working and resilient enough to bridge our past to a glory future.