Small World for USC Price Alumnae

Global Reach:

From Shanghai to SoCal, It’s a Small World for USC Price Alumnae

By Cristy Lytal

Raised in Shanghai, Wenting Wu, left, and Jingjie “Ginger” Li have maintained their friendship since graduating from USC.
Photo by Deirdre Flanagan

USC Sol Price School of Public Policy alumnae Jingjie “Ginger” Li MPA ’11 and Wenting Wu MPA ’11 have a lot in common.

“Here we have two young ladies from Shanghai who did not know each other there but were both admitted to the Master of Public Administration program at the USC Price School of Public Policy. Now they are both working for USC with important jobs helping to foster the university’s global agenda,” said Eric Heikkila, professor and director of international initiatives at USC Price.

Li has been working full-time for the USC Price Office of International Initiatives since July 2011. In May, Wu became the new associate director of the USC Shanghai Office. Both entered the MPA program at the same time and graduated together in 2011.

“They’re both very professional,” said Carol Rush, associate dean for student affairs at USC Price. “They work really hard. They’re committed to what they do. You give them a project, and both of them, they just run with it. They’re smart, and they’re also very politically astute. They both love USC, and they loved their time here.”

As an undergraduate at the Shanghai International Studies University, Li majored in Japanese. When her interests turned to public administration, she chose to earn her master’s degree from USC Price because of the school’s high ranking, excellent reputation and ideal location in Los Angeles. During Li’s second year at the school, Heikkila offered her a job as a student worker in the USC Price Office of International Initiatives. After graduation, she became a full-time staff member.

“I was very delighted and hugely honored to take that position,” she said. “I’m really interested in collaborating with foreign institutions.”

Her duties include receiving international delegations, preparing for USC global conferences, helping with the global executive education program and supporting students with international internships.

“The job really makes use of my talents and my knowledge, and allows me to return what I have learned from our school to our school,” she said. “And in terms of my language background, I can speak Chinese, Japanese and English, so that’s one of my contributions to the office as well.”

Heikkila pointed out that Li brings “tremendous zeal” to the work of USC Price’s international initiatives.

“She has an innate sense of protocol,” Heikkila added, “which is so important with the many visitors we receive from abroad, mixing just the right blend of professional correctness with personal warmth. Perhaps most importantly, she takes to heart the mission of the school and is constantly finding new ways to interpret that in the context of her daily work.”

Wu earned an undergraduate degree in public administration at Tongji University in Shanghai before continuing her studies at USC Price.

She credited the learning experiences from her internships in Los Angeles, as well as having the opportunity to study nonprofit organization management at USC Price, with helping prepare her to succeed as a professional.

“It totally changed my life when I went to USC,” Wu said.

In her new position in Shanghai, she helps at recruitment and admission events for potential and newly admitted students, supports the alumni club, and seeks out international research, internship and exchange opportunities for USC students and faculty.

“One of my favorite things is meeting a lot of alumni, getting to know them and inviting them to get them involved in Shanghai,” she said. “And then the other one is getting to know a lot of potential students here in Shanghai. Although we are far from the USC campus, we have our Trojan Family here.”

Though Li and Wu didn’t know each other when they were growing up in Shanghai, they met as soon as they arrived at USC and remain good friends.

“We met each other on the day of the USC orientation,” Li said. “And since then, we built a strong relationship and close friendship.”

Wu added: “Ginger is my best friend there because we were the same year, same major and both from Shanghai. And actually, this summer, I will be her bridesmaid in Shanghai.”