The Western Program
at Miami University
Alumni Profile: Ming Tak Martin Yip (2008)
Martin Yip is from Hong Kong and is currently [January 2012] an International Graduate at Standard Chartered Bank. He will spend 5 months working in India this year.
What helped you choose the Western Program?
On the first day of orientation, the guy sitting next to me asked what my major was. I told him that I like politics, philosophy, communication and economics, and I was having trouble picking one or two. He asked, "Why don't you create your own major?" Then he took me to see an academic adviser, who explained how it was possible.
Coming from a more rigid culture, I had never heard of creating your own major and, being an international student from Hong Kong, I was concerned that I would have difficulty adjusting to the U.S. culture and educational system. But the adviser told me that I could receive the attention and support that I needed at Western because the program is small. Hearing this, I decided to give it a try.
We talked about current issues on and off campus, and so many other intriguing topics — such as protecting the environment and defending human rights — that our discussions always continued late at night. I learned so much.
What were some of the surprises that you encountered as you settled into the community?
I was surprised that my education extended into my residence hall. In Peabody, community members keep their doors open and we would sit in the wide corridors and chat for hours. We'd read our essays to one another and comment on how to improve them. We talked about current issues on and off campus, and so many other intriguing topics — such as protecting the environment and defending human rights — that our discussions always continued late at night. I learned so much.
What did you enjoy most about Western?
Besides making many lifelong friends, I was empowered to be an active member of the world. Many of my friends are active in understanding democracy in developing countries, reducing pollution, promoting free trade, and resolving the Middle East conflict.
Even though Miami is located in the middle of corn fields, many students study abroad in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, or do community work for the underprivileged in neighboring areas. Many friends eventually devoted a few years of their lives as Peace Corps or AmeriCorps volunteers.
Western has a rich history of commitment to social justice ... If no citizens had questioned [policies deterring African Americans from voting], talented people such as President Obama would not be able to serve their country.
Reflecting upon your time at Western, what did you learn and what do you think the value has been?
Western has a rich history of commitment to social justice, most notably its involvement in the Freedom Summer Project of 1964, a campaign to register as many African American voters as possible. I presented my senior thesis in Leonard Theater, the place where volunteers were trained during Freedom Summer.
I'm constantly reminded that we should not take the freedom and liberties that we enjoy for granted and that we need to stand at the forefront of defending freedom and liberty if we want a more just world.
There were many policies that administrations during those times did not support, such as the right for African Americans to vote. If no citizens had questioned these policies, talented people such as President Obama would not be able to serve their country.
Were research/special opportunities made available to you through Miami? If so, what was that experience like?
Being an Undergraduate Summer Scholar was a highlight of my college career. I received a scholarship and 12 credit hours to work on a self-designed topic with a faculty member from Sociology and Gerontology. I interviewed older people at an Oxford retirement home. The professor taught me so much and was so patient that I decided to become a life-long learner.
As you reflect upon the courses you have taken to meet Western and Miami requirements, how would you evaluate them? Have any of them been especially valuable to you?
My favorite class was Science and Religion. My friend Garret and I wrote a paper together about understanding the relationships between science and religion. We were so into the project that we discussed it even when we were in the restroom. Another great memory from the class was when the elders from the Institute of Learning in Retirement joined our class. Their experiences contributed so much to the class.
What extracurricular activities have you been active in through the university? Have you been able to take on leadership roles in these activities?
I was a Community Living Assistant for 3 years, president of the badminton club for a year, and active in the Chinese Students and Scholars Friendship Organization.
Because my family is so far away, residents in my hall invited me home for Thanksgiving and spring breaks. Many were kind enough to share their lives with me. I got to attend important events in their lives, such as musical recitals, architecture open houses, and project presentations.
What is one thing that you would like to participate in during the remainder of your time at Miami?
There are many new international students and I hope to help them help themselves as much as possible so that they can enjoy and contribute at MU.