Home News International Graduate Finds Her “American Hometown” Through Shawnee State Right Here in...

International Graduate Finds Her “American Hometown” Through Shawnee State Right Here in Pickaway County


After completing both her undergraduate and master’s degree at Shawnee State University, Chinese native Shuyi Chen has started her career as an occupational therapist in Pickaway County.

“Occupational therapy is something that is not really popular in China, so I was intrigued when I first heard about it,” Chen said, who first received a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in 2017 before enrolling in the Master of Occupational Therapy program and graduating in 2019. “When I first heard about occupational therapy, I looked up videos on YouTube to learn more about it. It looked fun and meaningful.”

There are only 3,000 occupational therapists in mainland China, compared to 149,000 in the United States.

“I did not have any previous experience with occupational therapy before I came to Shawnee State,” she said. “When I first came to America, occupational therapy was non-existent in China. I was intrigued because we did not have special education teams in public school in China, and there was no rehab team either.”


Being an international student, Chen only had a small period of time after graduating with her master’s degree to find a job in the U.S.

“Finding a job as an international is a little bit more difficult,” she said, citing situations where employers were not open to sponsoring her. “I found a short contract job for several months in February, which made it possible for me to continue looking for a long-term job. While I was working my short-term job, my friend told me about a new job opportunity in Pickaway County. She was willing to be my reference, and with her help I got the job in March.”

Chen is currently working as an occupational therapist in Pickaway County Educational Services Center and Independence Home Therapy. Having been in America since 2013, she has been enjoying her time in this country.

“Studying abroad has been so valuable to my growth. I have learned to be a more assertive, strong, and independent woman,” Chen said who found a sense of empowerment pursuing her graduate degree.

Chen’s family lives more than 8,000 miles from her and she sometimes struggles with the distance and being away from them.  

“Sometimes it is hard when my family can’t be present for big events or when I am sad,” she said. “In my home country, I can always go visit my family – home is like a safe harbor for me. Being away from home makes me more independent, but sometimes I get lonely too. It is hard to talk to my family because there is a 12-hour time difference between here and China.”

Shawnee State University – and Portsmouth, Ohio – will forever have a special place in Chen’s heart. 

“I pursued both my graduate and undergraduate degree at Shawnee State, and I have met so many wonderful people there,” she said. “Portsmouth is like my American hometown – it is, and it will always be, special to me.”

To learn more about opportunities for study abroad and international programs through Shawnee State University, visit shawnee.edu.