Yunhui Yang

Yunhui Yang

  • Major: History, Japanese Studies
  • Hometown: Beijing, China
swipe to see more

Growing up in one of the largest cities in the world, Yunhui Yang thought he was pretty cool. Furman changed all that, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I was joking with my friend I became a nerd after I came here,” he said. “But nerd in good ways. I loved it. I wasn’t as hard-working back in high school. The primary problem I found was I was forced to work on something I don’t like.”

Yang’s parents had a clear vision for his college education — a degree in some kind of science. Things were a bit blurrier from where their son was sitting, but lacking a better plan of his own Yang was ready to accede to their wishes until a Chinese history course taught by Associate Professor of History Lane Harris brought everything into focus.

Yang liked it so much, he signed up for another one. Then another, and another, and before Yang knew it, he’d taken nine of Harris’ classes, had a 20-page research paper published in Furman Humanities Review and had graduated with a history degree.

Now he’s headed to Harvard to pursue a master’s in regional studies – East Asia, where he will continue digging into the mystery of whether or not the Ming dynasty should be classified as an empire.

That driving passion, once unimaginable, was sparked by research and independent study opportunities Harris made available.

“Dr. Harris said if you are considering graduate school and if you want to learn something outside the classroom, we could do this. It’s called summer research,” Yang said. “He kind of explained this to me and my responsibility and his work.”

Harris, Yang’s advisor, also did something else: He gave Yang the confidence to see that his choice to pursue humanities was the right one

“I am going to be a historian in the future,” Yang said. “Dr. Harris encouraged me by saying he believed I can make some achievements if I choose something I’m interested in … I really appreciated that. It’s very safe to say it’s changed my life.”