September 25, 2021
From Where I Sit

From Where I Sit: It does not matter where you start, but how far you can go

by Zhiyi Jiang

It’s my second year at Herkimer College. Life here is quite different from what I experienced in China, but coming is a decision that I won’t regret.

When I was in China, I attended Yunnan University of Finance and Economics. I was always competitive. I attended several activities like the 22nd China Daily English Public Speaking Contest. As I mingled with my impressive peers, I began to think about the limited path society gave us to success. After winning the third prize at the national level with my speech “China, a Global View,” I started to get interested in politics and international relations. It opened my mind to the possibilities of achievement outside of my limited choices in China.

I began exploring international politics and economies by representing Japan in Model APEC, taking the Best Economic award. This granted me an invitation to attend the International Slush Conference in Finland, where I heard a moving speech delivered by former Vice President Al Gore. His encouragement to explore who we were and how we could impact the world confirmed my desire to continue expanding my worldview from a global perspective. I decided to continue my studies in the United States.

I decided to go to the US to study to immerse myself in the most comprehensive law system, the most transparent jurisdiction division, and the best separation of powers system globally, without first earning the diploma of my university in China. Without hesitation, I began my journey by studying at Herkimer Community College in New York. It is the best beginning for me to prepare for a more rigorous academic future. I majored in legal studies here, keeping my GPA as 4.0 as the first semester, learning much from my professor Dr. Polkosnik, who teaches five paralegal courses and one philosophy course for me.

I met the best professor, advisor, and staff at Herkimer College. Even today, I cannot forget what my advisor Ms. Traino said to us at First-year seminar class: “it does not matter where you start, but how far you can go.” Many people get anxious, desperate, and depressed since COVID happened. However, I did not choose to go back to China, remaining in the best studying environment and keeping my RA job. My professor Dr. P always invites me to his office to discuss the academic topic and living situation. My advisor Ms. Traino helps me with every aspect of living. She drove to airport to pick me up, gave me advice on my courses, wrote me a recommendation letter, and introduced every part of the college.

In the meantime, Herkimer gives me enough time to do what I want. I have poured my efforts into the video community I built on the platforms Bilibili and Sina. As I started to shoot more videos since coming to Herkimer about my Vlogs, speech contests, and learning English and law techniques, my followers accumulated from 1 to 2,000, 200,000 in total, and clicks went from 1 to 400,000, and now 4,000,000.

Also, I love holding events at Herkimer College. As a RA, I kept the event “cookie in a jar” with Ms. Jennifer; it was a big success. It was a weekend event where everyone came and designed their cookie jar before Christmas, making their families their gift.

I also recommend every one of you to join Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors Program. The Honor Program’s mentor, Associate Professor Jennifer Herzog, helped us build our leadership skills and implement the honor program’s community project.

There’s more to what Herkimer has taught me; however, “it does not matter where you start, but how far you can go” will always stay with me.


From Where I Sit is a recurring column featuring the voices and perspectives of international students attending Herkimer College.