Within a year of transferring from Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, Guo was working as a summer intern at the National Academy of Public Administration in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization chartered by Congress. She had helped organize a Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration for the Rutgers Chinese Students Association and was leading orientation tours at Douglass Residential College.
In her second year, she landed an internship at NBC News in New York and became a research assistant for the chair of Rutgers' Asian Languages and Cultures Department. When a friend introduced her to Argentine tango dancing, she founded the Rutgers Tango Club, which meets every Wednesday night. During breaks, she traveled throughout the United States, visiting the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami.
"I take a lot of initiative to do things," says Guo, who graduated with honors in January. "Everything I do – no one tells me – but I find out the opportunities and I go forward."
Two years ago, Guo's work ethic and love of learning caught the attention of one of her instructors, Raymond Stone, who had taught her in his “Money and Banking” class. When Guo earned her degree in communication and economics, Stone offered her a job as a research analyst at his company, Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, in Princeton.
"She had finished school, and I thought, 'Boy – what an opportunity to hire someone who is really first rate,' "says Stone, the managing director of the company and a part-time lecturer at Rutgers. "She did extremely well in my course and she exhibited a curiosity that I appreciated."
While Guo has been accepted into two graduate schools to study international relations, she has decided to defer her admission so that she can work for a year at Stone & McCarthy. Her career goal is to become a diplomat, which has been her dream job since she was a child.
Her interest in international relations comes from being exposed to students from around the world who came to her Beijing home to study Chinese with her mother. "I was literally surrounded with a lot of international faces," she says. "I just enjoyed that kind of diversity."
Though Guo views secondary education in China as strong, she felt that attending college in the United States would give her more freedom to choose her major and take courses that intrigued her. After researching several schools, she chose Rutgers because it offered undergraduates opportunities to conduct research and it was located near major cities on the East Coast.
With just a textbook knowledge of English, Guo found it difficult at first to converse with others and compose papers for her expository writing class. But she persevered in her determination to learn English and is still proud of the A she earned in her composition class.
During her three and a half years at Rutgers, Guo was honored as a Phi Beta Kappa and received three scholarships, including an Associate Alumnae Special Scholarship from Douglass College. Guo credits the advisors and close-knit community at Douglass with helping her adjust to college life and make connections that enabled her to explore her career goals.
Though she graduated in January, Guo's involvement at Rutgers has not slowed down. In April, she was a core organizer of TEDx Rutgers, an event modeled on the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference held annually on the West Coast. Guo invited three speakers she had met while attending other conferences to the event, which attracted 500 people.
While she has no immediate plans to move back to China, she hopes someday to help her native country improve its educational system and its relations with the United States. "I don't think she will be going back to China very soon, but I think that she will be enriched by her experiences in the United States, which will make her a contributor to what goes on in China," Stone says.
"She's one of the people, in her way, who will help change her world for the better."