“MSVU is a wonderful place to learn”

Christine YangQ&A with MSVU alumna Christine Qin Yang

Since coming to MSVU from her home in China nearly 10 years ago, Christine Qin Yang has established herself as an accomplished professional and a gender equality and diversity advocate. She credits MSVU with providing her with a solid foundation and enabling her to build an impressive career in Halifax. We first profiled Christine in 2016, and recently had a chance to catch up with her to find out how her continuing connections to the university have helped her to chart her course.

How did you end up at MSVU?

I first spent two years studying at a partner university of MSVU’s – Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University – also known as FAFU. FAFU has a long-term partnership with a number of universities here in Nova Scotia, including MSVU. I came to MSVU as a “2+2” program student, arriving in July 2012. I spent two years studying in MSVU’s Business Administration program and, in November 2014, I graduated from Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University with Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and from Mount Saint Vincent University with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

What drew you to MSVU?

When I searched it, I found that MSVU is very close to the ocean, and my hometown in the southeast of mainland China, in Fujian Province, is also by the ocean. So, I found some similarity there. And, when I researched, I realized the MSVU is one of the first institutions to focus on educating women and I felt that was very special. Also, MSVU is a small university and I felt it would give me a better environment for me to adapt to Canadian culture and improve my English language skills.

What are you doing now?

Christine Yang at the Canadian Embassy in TokyoBeginning in 2017, I worked as an International Relations Officer at the Nova Scotia Department of Intergovernmental Affairs. My work there supported the province’s international engagement and my priority was Asian Pacific countries, including China, Japan, Korea, and other emerging regions in the Indo Pacific. In this role, I was able to lead and support a number of missions for the Premier and the minister. I was also able to bring an art exhibition by the very famous Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis to China, so that was very special to me. Next, I served as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage. While in that position, I led legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives to support the Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage’s priorities. Starting August 2022, I’ll become Project Manager, Market Development with the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. In this role, I will work strategically to promote and grow the Nova Scotian seafood economy. I’m also studying in the Master of Public Administration (Management) Program at Dalhousie University.

What are some things you learned ‘outside of the classroom’ during your time at MSVU?

MSVU really taught me the idea of ‘community.’ As an international student, I learned the importance of volunteering in my new country. I was very shy at the beginning, and I was trying to adapt to a new culture, and also speak a new language. The volunteer experience I gained really helped me to realize a sense of community. I also worked at International Education Centre at MSVU as a student to support in recruiting more international students and that provided me with a great foundation, to understand different cultures and adapt myself to communicate with people from different backgrounds and understand different perspectives.

How did your time at MSVU influence your life and your career?

Christine Yang standing beside the Maud Lewis Exhibition in ChinaAfter I graduated from MSVU, I didn’t find a full-time job right away, but the university didn’t abandon me – everyone was very supportive, especially the staff at Career Services and in the International Education Centre (IEC). They provided great resources to coach me and teach me how to build my network here in Halifax, and reviewed resumes and cover letters. I got my first job as a Connector Program Coordinator at the Halifax Partnership, supporting international students and immigrants to connect with the local community to establish their careers in Halifax. After I started my career, I was able to serve on the MSVU Board of Governors and also on the board of the MSVU Alumni Association, to continue to be engaged with the university. MSVU also inspired me around the importance of gender equality. As an immigrant, I realize I have my voice and I need to speak up for gender equality and also for racialized women. That’s why I’m currently serving as the Vice-Chair of the Women’s Advisory Committee in Halifax. I want to see many more women like myself and to continue to grow and create roots in my new country and new city.

Do you have any stories that stand out from your time at MSVU?

Christine Yang meeting MSVU President Ramona Lumpkin and Mayor Mike Savage in 2015I think about all of the women who helped me to build my career and mentored me. For example, in the IEC – from the staff who picked me up at the airport when I first arrived in Canada, through to my English teachers at the centre. Also, the current interim MSVU President – Dr. Ramona Lumpkin – was my president back when I was studying at the university. She met me at one of my first official networking events and she asked me if I had my business cards with me. She literally walked me around the room and introduced me to Mayor Mike Savage and others. We took a photo together. Her support meant a lot to an international student like me. She continues to be a friend and mentor to me. I learned a lot from the women at the university and I think it will have a very long-term impact.

What differentiates MSVU from other post-secondary institutions?

I think part of what makes MSVU very special is the small size of the university. Every student can really feel a sense of belonging. Your professor and even the president of the school remember students’ names. They’re very friendly and welcoming, especially for students who come from away. I think that’s very important. Even though it is small, I think MSVU has very important value in supporting our community. The university has really taken action to move forward and to support the Indigenous community. I remember as a student, I saw land acknowledgments and smudging ceremonies many times at university events. It helped me – as an international student – to be curious and understand what’s behind all this and inspired me to think about diversity and inclusion. People at MSVU really care about each other. And, last but not least, is the many wonderful women who are connected to MSVU. The university is so unique in celebrating, supporting and educating women.

What advice do you have for current or future students of MSVU?

MSVU has so many wonderful resources. I really encourage all students who can to participate and use these resources and make sure you engage with opportunities. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone, to get connected outside of campus to a community and get involved. I think for future international students, the university enables you to connect with the community and to know about diversity and inclusion, as well as gender equality. MSVU is a wonderful place to learn.

MSVU celebrates women every day. The MSVU family has many inspiring women, and it empowered me to tackle many challenges and pursue my dreams. Most importantly, it helped me realize that I can do everything men are capable of doing. I encourage current and future MSVU students to believe in yourself and get involved in your community. Especially for young women, it is important to realize your full potential and dream big!