(top photo) An English class that Bixia organized this summer. (bottom photo) Dormitory in middle school in Gansu. Right: Bixia Wang at SFU's Burnaby Mountain campus.


Research profile: Bixia Wang, Chemistry

September 08, 2011

Bixia Wang's journey to graduate school is filled with firsts. She's the first from her family — and her village — to graduate from university.

Her path wasn't easy. When she was accepted to Shaanxi Normal University, her mother was hospitalized and her construction worker father brought home $200 per month, carrying 20 kilogram cement sacks all day and earning 90 cents per tonne carried.

She couldn't afford to pay her tuition, but a fortuitous connection was made for her with Vancouver philanthropist Tien Ching, the founder and president of the BC Society for Educating Girls of Rural China (EGRC). The charity is only six years old but in that short time, it's helped 286 young women from impoverished rural areas of Gansu Province in Northwest China to receive university educations.

More firsts: Bixia is the first president of the EGRC Student Association and the first of the sponsored young women to go on to a graduate degree. Because of her hard work as an undergraduate (including a paper published in Sensors and Actuators B), she received funding and admission offers from SFU and the University of Alberta. She's chosen to study in Dr. Zuo-Guang Ye's lab and continue her research in SFU's Department of Chemistry.

Other firsts have followed quickly. In the last two weeks, she's experienced her first journey by plane, her first sight of an ocean and first time to try sailing, and a first time to eat western foods.

She adds, "I like this city and this university — the blue sky, the clear air, the quiet environment and pleasant people. Ms. Tien has collected some furniture for me and I have settled down in the campus residence. I have confidence that I will have a happy life and can make new friends here. And I can help Ms. Tien as much as possible. I am excited."

We're delighted to welcome her to Simon Fraser University and we're looking forward to seeing many more firsts for her in the future.

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