President’s Message –
By Dr. Dawn Lindsay
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From Cows to Accounting - Valedictorian Headed for Different Life Than Expected
Daimei Li
Daimei Li with Dr. Dawn Lindsay
Daimei Li thought she would spend the rest of her life leading cows to work the rice paddies on her family’s small farm in China. Today, as valedictorian of AACC’s Class of 2014, she’s eager to lead much more as she continues her path toward a career in accounting and finance.

After deciding to go away to school with her older sister, this fueled both young women’s desire to continue furthering their education. So upon returning, they convinced their parents to allow them to attend college in the city. Her mother’s only charge had been to get good grades.

“I love languages. When you can speak a person’s language, you can communicate and learn about each other,” she says.

She began teaching English to second graders in a private elementary school in the city and loved her job. But everything changed when she met the man who would become her husband, an American on a tour who was a linguist stationed in Hawaii with the U.S. Air Force.

While she was skeptical, the pair began a long distance relationship, with him visiting her twice. Her parents accepted him because he could speak Chinese, but when she told them she was moving to the United States to get married, they tried their best to discourage her.

“In China, you listen to your parents,” she says. “But also if you fall in love, you listen to that, too.”

That was four years ago. After moving to this area when her husband was transferred, Li decided to continue her education. While there are set paths for where and what students must study in China, in America there are plenty of options.

To see some of Li’s valedictorian speech to AACC’s Class of 2014, watch it here.

She enrolled at AACC and started working toward her goal of becoming an accountant. She also took advantage of opportunities to participate in school clubs, which opened other doors. Through her involvement with the International Students Association, her advisor connected her with a local organization that sponsors international arts groups. She now often attends Kennedy Center productions where she translates for visiting Chinese artists. She also was treasurer of the Student Association and a member of Phi Theta Kappa, tutored other students in math, and joined the Honors program where she also was a student worker.

Thanks to her desire for an education that began in a house made of dirt more than 7,000 miles away, Li’s world is very different from how she thought it would be. While she misses her parents, she is glad she decided to take a chance on the unknown. “It is good to have choices,” she says.

Fortunately, her next decision should be much easier – whether to continue her education at Georgetown University or University of Maryland College Park.

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