International Student Spotlight: Joann Li

by Saniya More

November 13, 2017

Chinese-born Singaporean broadcast and digital journalism major wants to report on international issues

A photo of Joann Li
Joann Li

When Joann Li graduates from the Newhouse School, she hopes to work in foreign correspondence at a major news organization like CNN.

According to Li, a sophomore dual broadcast and digital journalism and information technology major, one of the reasons she wants to be a foreign correspondent is because moving between cultures is something she has been doing her whole life.

“As international students, we are able to leave our comfort zones because we’ve already been exposed to that discomfort by leaving home and coming to this country,” Li says. “I don’t think working overseas intimidates us. It actually almost excites us.”

Li was born in Guangdong, China, but has lived with her family in China, Singapore and for a brief time during her childhood, Rochester, New York.

Li came to Newhouse for the school’s renowned broadcast and digital journalism program.

“It seemed like Newhouse could really cater to what I wanted to do in the future,” Li says.

However, there are times when Li has felt like broadcast journalism is not a feasible pathway for international students. Competition and not having American citizenship are, according to Li, significant obstacles when it comes to applying for jobs and internships in the U.S. This is primarily because many companies do not hire “alien” or non-American citizens, as visa sponsorship is an expensive and complicated process.

Li has been able to gain experience and strengthen her profile by being involved in a variety of organizations on campus.

Li currently serves as the service chair of the Phi Sigma Pi national honor fraternity. She is on the women’s club ultimate Frisbee team, is an assistant web editor at Jerk magazine and also worked as a peer consultant at the Slutzker Center over the summer.

Li says her time at Newhouse has pushed her to view the world around her in a significantly different way.

“Newhouse has taught me that you have to be very precise in your work, you have to be able to pick out what really matters,” she says.

But at the same time, Li wants to bring attention to stories that are often overlooked because they aren’t seen as locally relevant.

“I want to work on bridging gaps of misunderstanding between different cultures and tell stories that are either overshadowed by ‘more important’ issues, or just stories that need to be heard,” Li says.

“Everything is multi-layered, nothing is what it seems on the surface. Newhouse has really taught me that.”

Nov. 13-17 is International Education Week. Read more>>

Saniya More is a junior broadcast and digital journalism major at the Newhouse School.