When Sophie Gao, MS ’18, came to New York for a summer program at Columbia University in 2014, one of her side trips was to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
There, in the grandest venue for America’s game, Gao, a 22-year-old Beijing native, fell in love with baseball.
“I was very impressed by the game,” she said.
When she returned home to complete her undergraduate work in finance at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, Gao took a lesson in softball to learn how to play the game.
“I have that passion, but I’m not a very good player right now,” she laughed.
Gao, the daughter of two medical doctors, is now back in New York, pursuing her master’s degree in global finance at the Gabelli School of Business and seeking to take advantage of all the city has to offer. Fordham, she believes, will help her do that.
Initially, Fordham University was not on Gao’s radar, but a chance meeting changed that.
“At my university, I met a Fordham girl … and I asked her, ‘What do you think about Fordham?’” Gao said.
The student told her about Fordham’s Jesuit ideals, excellent faculty, diverse student body and networking opportunities. She was impressed enough to make the university her home for the next two years.
“People are open-minded and will treat each other very fairly,” Gao said of her new school. “And also everyone wants to help you in some way.”
New York City, its diversity and proximity to major financial institutions are also draws for Gao. The diversity and openness to new ideas, in particular, are major differences between New York and Beijing, she said. Beijing, she said, is traditional city with a long and impressive history, but it is also much more homogenous than New York.
“In New York City, everything is new and the trends change every day. So I think it’s a great opportunity for me … I’m very curious about everything, and I like new things,” she said.
There are also baseball and softball here. With little chance to play during her final undergraduate year in New York, Gao is hoping to improve her skills on a club team. Maybe, too, she’ll see her favorite player, the great Ichiro Suzuki, come to bat one more time.