Graduating senior reflects on 7 things she’ll miss most about UMSL

by | May 18, 2016

From student discounts to unexpected pianos to rigorous classes, Lingru Kong shares what she's enjoyed most during her time on campus.
Lingru Kong

Before crossing the stage last weekend in celebration of her marketing degree, Lingru Kong took a few moments to savor her favorite aspects of life as a UMSL student. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Lingru Kong likes to joke that she chose a writing-intensive path at the University of Missouri–St. Louis because learning English as an adult was so easy.

“Actually, I was not confident at all – the thing I hated most when I was first learning was writing,” says Kong, who grew up in mainland China and moved to Missouri in 2011. “But I wanted to challenge myself.”

As Kong finished up an associate degree at St. Charles Community College in 2013, her adviser urged her to consider applying to UMSL’s Pierre Laclede Honors College despite some hesitation on Kong’s part. She did so – and soon found herself not only admitted but awarded scholarships.

In the three years since transferring to the university, Kong has proven herself up to the challenge on a wide variety of fronts. The business administration major was president of both the UMSL Marketing Club and the university’s National Society of Leadership and Success chapter this past semester. She’s also fit in sizable internships with Disney and Scottrade alongside her studies and campus involvement.

But her time in the honors college ranks at the top of her list when she considers her UMSL experience as a whole.

“The faculty don’t focus on memorization and taking exams,” Kong says. “Instead, you do research, you write a report, you analyze cases. All this critical thinking will benefit me far into the future.”

Just prior to commencement last week and her family’s arrival from China to help her celebrate earning her bachelor’s degree, Kong shared a list of seven things she’ll miss most about UMSL, a place she says has come to feel like a second home.

1. Mental workouts via Pierre Laclede Honors College

“Because of the small class size and the structure of the class, it encourages discussion,” Kong says, “and you can really engage with your classmates and professors.”

With intensive focuses on topics such as international ethics and the legal environment, she says she can’t emphasize enough the value of the coursework – or the interactions with those learning alongside her.

“At class and events, when I look around me, I feel like UMSL is so global and that my mind is being broadened.”

2. Training for a 5K at the Recreation and Wellness Center

Kong was delighted to see the UMSL Recreation and Wellness Center open up in time for her final year at the university. She says it’s been useful not just for personal fitness but for social events and time with classmates as well as others.

“I can bring friends [who are not UMSL students] along with me, and it’s only $8 for everything, including things like rock climbing,” she says. “And I’m currently training there for a 5K, on the indoor track … I have a friend here who motivates me. I didn’t get to do the Goose Chase because I wasn’t quite done with my training, but hopefully I’ll be back for one soon.”

3. Creative fun made possible by the University Program Board

“I’ve attended many, many of their events, and they’re so much fun,” Kong says of the activities spearheaded by the student-driven University Program Board. “They also do a lot of off-campus events that give you a unique experience of St. Louis. Whenever I see that UPB chicken logo on a flier or something, I know it’s going to be a great event.”

One of her personal favorites is Friday Night Flicks – free movie nights in the Millennium Student Center that often include popcorn or even dinner.

4. The St. Louis Metro Transit pass

“It’s such a great idea,” Kong says of the regional MetroLink pass that is included as part of students’ tuition. “It’s important for so many commuter students, and it’s also a great way to explore St. Louis.”

5. Student rates for the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center

“I went to so many performances during my time here – Mary Poppins, Little Mermaid,” says Kong, an avid Disney fan. “They have a lot of international performances as well, like Japanese storytelling. I like all of that culture, and it’s so cheap as an UMSL student.”

6. Discounts at many St. Louis destinations

According to Kong, the trusty student ID is not a benefit to be taken for granted. From the Delmar Loop to Olive Boulevard, she’s made the most of that particular card in her wallet, finding it useful at a variety of restaurants, events, museums and other destinations in the region.

7. Playing the various pianos in the Millennium Student Center

One of the best-kept secrets on UMSL’s campus may be something that is tucked away in the stairwells of the Millennium Student Center. Just near the end of the fall 2015 semester, Kong discovered that there were several pianos located in the building, and she and her boyfriend, who also attends UMSL, have made the most of the instruments on campus this spring.

“He had been wanting to buy a piano, but then I saw these, and I told him, ‘I will teach you at school,’ so we’ve been practicing the whole semester,” she says. “I practice myself before he gets here, and then I teach him.”

The UMSL Experience

Evie Hemphill

Evie Hemphill