ORLANDO, Fla., March 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A businesswoman from China's largest online travel service provider is setting up a scholarship at University of Florida, where she studied nearly three decades ago when she was a poor international student.
Sun Jie, CEO of Ctrip.com, is funding a scholarship program at the university to international students furthering studies in business and law.
Ms. Sun was awarded the first International Philanthropist Award at the University of Florida for "boosting the university's reputation and expanding its global preeminence."
After a summer school program at the University of Florida 28 years ago, Sun Jie, a sophomore student in Peking University at the time, decided to stay in the United States and pursue a degree in business at the University of Florida.
Despite cash-strapped, Sun Jie was never daunted, and she was determined to stand on her own feet through diligence and perseverance. In 1989, when China's economy has yet to take off, Sun's parents were only making less than $15 per month. She has to work around the clock and pinch every penny to make both ends meet and provide for herself.
"I must work very hard to get a semester's tuition. Fortunately, at that time, we had weekends, so I still had Sunday to study," said Sun.
She would bike seven miles at 6 o'clock every morning to go to school to make sure she could sit in the front row of the first class at seven. Right after noon, when the morning session is over, she would work at part-time job from 1 pm to 6pm, she reminisced.
Professor Nancy Baldwin, who brought Sun to University of Florida, offered Sun a place to live and took good care of the 19-year-old girl ocean away from her parents.
"She had no money, and she couldn't go back home, so she came to live with the Baldwins, and we have loved her as a daughter," said Baldwin.
The goodwill was much appreciated by Sun, who promised to reciprocate and take care of the Baldwins when they get old to honor traditional Chinese filial piety. But the professor told her the kindness could be better used if she could pass on the love and help students in need of help, just like when they helped young Sun Jie three decades ago.
Sun said since then she has made a wish to "help those good children who study hard, and also need help. I hope those children could have more opportunities."
By waiting tables at the university at $3 an hour, Sun managed to put herself through graduation and landed on a job at KPMG in 1992. In 2005, she went back to China to join Ctrip. She has recently been named by Forbes as one of 2017 outstanding Chinese businesswomen.
And now she is trying to nurture the next generation of leaders by offering students things she would have dreamt of three decades ago.
Chen Qiao, a Chinese girl studying at the university's business school, was the first recipient of the newly-established scholarship. "I feel deeply grateful to her," said Chen, who is from a modest family in a remote area in Jiangxi, China. Without the scholarship, it would be more challenging for her to study in the US, given her family's humble economic condition.
And it is not only the students are getting benefits from the generosity.
"I hope that through the establishment of this scholarship, international students could have the opportunity to achieve their dreams in the United States, and I also hope the University of Florida can achieve better development in China, and bring the best talent here," Sun said.
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SOURCE Ctrip.com International Ltd.