Student Feature: Annabella Cao, Class of 2018

Annabella Cao

Hometown: Qingdao City, China
Undergrad: Hainan University
Major: International Economics & Trade


Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you chose the M.S. in Global Commerce Program.
My name is Wanxin Cao, but you can call me Annabella. I am originally from the north of China, but I did my undergraduate studies in the south of China, at Hainan University, where I studied International Economics and Trade. I then went on to earn a master’s in International Business from Lingnan University. I chose this program so that I could go abroad, meet new people, and see the differences between my own country and other countries around the world. This is actually my first time traveling outside of China, which has been a really exciting experience. I look forward to seeing how I change and adapt to new environments throughout this program.

What has been your favorite part about the program so far?
My favorite part of every course is how much emphasis is placed on class participation. At UVA, people actively ask questions and are engaged in the class discussion, which is different from China, where classes are more lecture-style. I really enjoy participating in class discussions and asking questions, which have made this a great transition for me. Also, I enjoy class participation because my classmates provide me with new ideas, which inspire me to generate even more ideas of my own.

You’re the Chinese Class Delegate for the Class of 2018. What made you run for class delegate and what does that role look like for you?
I wanted the opportunity to connect with more of my classmates and faculty throughout the program. I also wanted to challenge myself to take on more responsibility to help me grow personally and professionally. The duty of class delegates (one each from the United States, Asia, and Europe) is to form a “bridge” between program leadership and the students. I am responsible for collecting feedback from the class and providing it to faculty and program coordinators to help improve the program for future cohorts.

Can you talk to me a little about the group thesis project?
My thesis group is composed of an American, a Belgian, and me. It’s interesting to work with my team because my teammates are very creative and have a lot of ideas, while I am more detail-oriented and organized. At first, I thought it would be difficult to work with people from different cultures on such a big project, but the communication and team dynamic between us have been great, which helps the process enormously. Our thesis topic is about the energy industry in the United States and how to transform the current U.S. energy model to a more efficient model using the Danish energy framework. We are fascinated by this topic because we care about sustainability and climate change, and we are hoping to make a positive contribution through our research. Doing a group thesis is a completely new concept to me, and though we will likely face some cultural challenges over the next year, I am appreciating the time we are spending together on this project.

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