Mills Studies in China by way of Freeman-ASIA Scholarship
Mills Studies in China by way of Freeman-ASIA Scholarship

When it came to his desire to study abroad in Nanchang, China last semester, junior Max Mills saw challenges but not roadblocks. He jumped the curriculum-scheduling hurdle with the help of Creighton’s Global Engagement Office to take culturally-rich courses like kung fu, tai chi and Chinese negotiations while satisfying business program requirements in marketing and finance. 

Meeting the financial challenge required a little more work. Mills, a business intelligence and analytics (BIA) and computer science double major from Denver, Colorado, applied for the Freeman-ASIA scholarship. The scholarship is offered through the Institute of International Education and mitigates the financial stress of studying abroad.

The application process included multiple essays. But Mills welcomed the chance to sit down, collect his thoughts and put into words his desire to spend a semester in China. Says Mills: “I actually enjoyed reflecting on my reasoning for why I wanted to study abroad,” which included the chance to grow as a person, experience a culture dramatically different from his own and explore what global citizenship actually means. “I believe this process focused my intentions,” he says.

Mills also had to present a plan of action on how he would share his experiences in China with the Omaha community. The purpose of the Freeman-ASIA, after all, is to increase the number of U.S. undergraduate students studying in East and Southeast Asia. Mills will talk to students enrolled in Mandarin Chinese language courses at Omaha Central High School about his semester in Nanchang.

Studying in China was Mills first choice for several reasons. Proficient in Mandarin, he wanted to solidify his language ability – a sort of “use it or lose it” impetus. Further, he says he is “a big fan of the food and culture” of the world’s second-largest economy: “I knew China was the right place for me.”

His immersion in eastern society and thought helped him to grow as a person and made him, he maintains, “a truly global citizen, experiencing entirely different cultures and lifestyles.”

“Living with things like the persistent pollution helped illuminate the challenges faced by the global community in a way I could never understand in a classroom setting,” Mills says. “This hands-on learning worked side-by-side with my Creighton education to provide context to what I have learned in Omaha.”

“Not to be cliché, but the study abroad experience really is once in a lifetime,” he continues. “The experiences you have and the people you meet will stay with you forever, no matter where the rest of your life takes you.”

Still, Mills is happy to be returning to the Heider College of Business classroom to continue his BIA coursework. He likes that the big data trend takes “some of the guesswork out of the business environment” and makes “businesspeople more effective and businesses more profitable.” But he also enjoys the humanities courses offered through Creighton’s Magis Core Curriculum. It “puts us in a great position to be the best students and human beings we can be,” Mills says. “A Creighton education is a full transformation of the body, mind and spirit.”