Dolly Dong came to the United States from China on a religious worker visa 13 years ago. Three years after, she moved to Ashland and the small community quickly became her second home Currently working on her master’s degree, Dolly is AU’s international campus minister and Chinese church pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ashland.
What was it about Ashland University that made you feel welcome? It’s a quiet community with a campus that has a friendly environment. I quickly made lots of friends. Any issue I had, particularly with learning better English, was supported. Ashland actually started teaching me the language before my first class. That helped a lot. Sometimes, I worked on English for two hours a day with total support from the university. And Ashland helped me better understand the U.S. culture. I love Ashland University for the support they’ve given me.
How do you balance studies and home life? It’s not just the studies I have to balance, but the ministry, too. It’s a lot, but with help from professors, church members and faculty, me and my daughter get the support we need. I have a team to help. I feel like I don’t have to do everything myself. Ashland even helped me find an apartment and helped me with furniture. Even when I needed to find a dentist, Ashland was there for us.
How has Ashland University helped make college affordable? I have three years of a full scholarship to finish my master’s degree in Ashland Theological Seminary. I have received help with accommodations, books and living expenses. It’s not just the university. The local community is very friendly and supportive, and that’s really important for any international student.
What experience have you had that could only happen at Ashland University? The care Ashland gives to the individual student. The university really looks out for every student. It’s a welcoming environment, both on campus and off, and for someone who came from China like me, that’s really important.
How has Ashland helped you find your passion or purpose for the future? The purpose is established by God. Ashland supports me and my purpose. Even with Ashland’s help, I am not doing this by myself. It’s God, too. Ashland has shown me to help others even more, and convinced me to help recruit others to join the university.
Do you see yourself relying on the Ashland University community for support throughout your career? Yes. Ashland is very friendly. It’s a team. Professors and faculty watch over you and will help anytime. My professors have become my friends.
How has AU demonstrated that they have faith in you? Ashland has given me the foundation and allowed me to think the way I want. Professors have coached me and worked around my schedule, which is important having a daughter. There were times when I was burned out, and wanted to quit but everyone at Ashland would not let me.
What does your future hold? After graduating with my master’s, I know I will have a strong calling to help international students even more. I’d like to continue with the ministry, which is my passion.
Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.###