Meant for Something Great

With help from Holt’s continuing education program, a young woman from a farming village in China enters her second year of graduate school in Beijing.

Farming or brown coal mining.

Rui is in her second year of graduate school.

For children growing up in impoverished families in Shanxi province, China, these are the two main career options. After high school, the majority of girls abandon the idea of attending college, and instead marry and have children. Competition to enter college is especially fierce in China. If your grades and test scores aren’t good enough, and you come from an impoverished family, your chances of receiving an education are slim, if not impossible.

But for Rui, a bright young adult with an interest in science and math, not going to college was not an option. “Rui is a person of persistence, and fights for her own future,” Cathy Yu, Holt’s program manager for Shanxi province, says.

Rui’s mother died when Rui was 13, and her father, a farmer, worked hard to provide for Rui and give her a quality education. Unfortunately, his efforts weren’t enough. So in 2010, Cathy recommended Rui for Holt’s continuing education program, a program initiated by Holt adoptive mom and long-time Holt supporter Tina Gsedl.

In 2000, on a trip to China to bring home her second child, Tina was asked a poignant question by Cathy. “What do you think happens to the [orphaned] children who don’t get adopted?” Cathy asked. “Foster care maybe, if they are lucky,” Tina replied. In fact, when an orphaned child ages out of the adoption process in China, the state no longer provides for them. “The more I thought about this, the more it bugged me,” Tina says. She needed to do something for “the children who got stuck.” What followed, years later, was Holt’s continuing education program, a program that helps young adults who have grown up in orphanages or poverty to continue their education past high school. Since its inception over a decade ago, 23 have graduated from college or graduate school, and nine more are expected to graduate next summer.

Wang Rui Hui_in the laboratory
Rui studies in a laboratory. She will earn her higher education degree in pharmacological studies this year.

Today, Tina supports Rui, who she had the pleasure of meeting in Beijing in 2010. Tina remembers Rui as “appropriately nervous” and very sweet. “She was a freshmen in college and she was afraid,” Tina says. “It was the first time she had ever been away from home, and she was unsure.” Through their conversation, Tina learned that Rui was skilled in math and science and had an interest in entering the medical field. “I told her it didn’t matter what she did,” Tina says. “What was important was that she received an education.”

Currently, with Tina’s help and the continuing support of her father, Rui is in her second year of graduate school in Beijing, pursing a higher education degree in pharmaceutical science. With excellent grades, impressive test scores and a knack for independent thinking, Rui has proven that she was meant for college, and will soon be free to look for a job in the medical field. Rui credits her father’s influence and passionate guiding for her success. “Indeed, her dad is the most influential person in her life,” Cathy says. “He is very strict with her study and she is grateful to have a family that has helped her.” In thoughtful letters, Rui also expresses her gratitude to Tina. “With the help from the donors, she is not worried about the tuition all the day long, and she can focus most of her energy on study and on what she wants to learn,” Cathy says. But even with help from her family and Holt donors, Rui has been steadfast in her desire to provide for herself. In college, she took tutoring jobs and also worked as a waitress, hoping that the extra income she earned would help ease her father’s burden.

After graduation, Rui hopes to find a job at a hospital in Beijing City and would like to help sick children and families, an occupation Cathy says was inspired by the early death of her mother. Cathy says because of this dream, Rui will most likely not be returning to her hometown to pursue a career — a belief that Tina echoes, with one additional thought. “If Rui ever does decide to go back to her village, if she decides to get married and have children, that would be wonderful,” Tina says. “She will go back educated and be able to better the lives of her children and the people around her. Being married and having children is a wonderful thing, but Rui was meant for college too, and I’m very proud that she followed her dream.”
There are fifteen students applying for scholarships totaling $20,000 for the 2016/2017 school year. If you are interested in learning more about Holt’s continuing education program in China, and helping one of these students achieve his or her dream, please contact Rose McBride at or at 541-687-2202, ext 164.

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