Her trip began at Zhongshan University near her hometown of Zhanjian in the southern China province of Guangdong, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economic geography and regional planning.
“When I was in China, I thought I would use my bachelor’s degree in city planning,” Huang said. “I worked for three years, but decided to get a master’s for more knowledge and ideas for projects.”
Huang’s life path then took a major fork from China to the U.S. in 2001 as she was accepted to a master’s program at Kansas State University.
“I think the U.S. has the best education in the world,” she said. “I was in geography, and GIS (geographic information systems) was my interest. The U.S. has the best GIS programs in the world.”
Her career path also forked at Kansas State when she took a course in natural resource economics.
“I still thought I would go back to China to work for the government until I got inspired by a professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State,” Huang said. “That was the first time I learned about supply and demand, elasticity, economic relationships. About the middle of the semester, I thought about getting a doctorate.”
After completing her master’s degree and joining KSU’s doctoral program in agricultural economics, within two years her path detoured again into a new field and a new state as she transferred to a doctoral program in finance at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“A KSU professor inspired me with the concepts of finance,” she said. “At the time, the stock market was doing very well and the real estate market was great. I got the best training in statistical methods, which was very helpful for a finance degree. I kind of diversified.”
“Those professors had set an example for me. They change students’ lives. I wanted to be that type of person.”
“When I was in Kansas in 2003,” she added, “a friend in Houston invited me to visit for the Christmas break. I loved Texas from then on. By the time I applied to do the finance doctorate, I wanted to be a professor. Those professors had set an example for me. They change students’ lives. I wanted to be that type of person – knowledgeable, wise and helping young people to create their futures.”
One final fork in the road brought Huang west when she chose ASU in 2009 and joined the faculty as an assistant professor of finance.
“ASU had an opening and I came to visit,” she said. “I loved the campus so much. It is a decent size, and I saw the ratio of students to faculty is 19:1. I really loved the idea that the professors can be more accessible to the students. At a big school with more than 100 students in one classroom, the students don’t have much opportunity to interact with professors.”
Since her arrival at ASU, Huang and her husband, Yuming Zhang, have finally put down some roots. Zhang is a self-employed stock trader, and Huang has joined several campus committees and sponsors the Alpha Chi national honor society. Last year, she was named the Outstanding Faculty Member in Research for the College of Business.
“I love San Angelo,” Huang said. “The people are so friendly. Before I came here, my mentor told me ASU is a good place. I love the style here, so friendly, so easy.”