“Learning Chinese taught me the value of being able to communicate with another person in their native language. You end up meeting a whole new side of others, and it is so exciting to be able to connect with new people through language.”

With no prior experience, Hunter Gross started studying Mandarin Chinese during his freshman year in the Chinese Flagship Program at Hunter College. His plunge into a new language and culture has earned him some top honors: He was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship and he also won a Boren Scholarship to further study Mandarin in China.

His pursuit of mastering Mandarin was advanced by the Macaulay Opportunities Fund, which gave him a chance to travel abroad to immerse himself in Chinese language and culture. He is currently in Tianjin, China for a year-long intensive Chinese program and internship. This is Hunter’s third excursion studying abroad in China; he also studied in Qingdao and at Harvard Beijing Academy.

As a dual Chinese and Political Science major, Hunter also used the Opportunities Fund to support an unpaid internship at the Council on Foreign Relations and an internship at the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. On a local level, he interned for New York City Council Member Margaret Chin’s District office. “These internships and study abroad opportunities will benefit my future career, whether I am making policy, representing the United States abroad, or working for an international company.”

When Hunter isn’t speaking Mandarin, he is singing. As a member of the Macaulay Triplets A Cappella group, he sang at various venues and competitions and helped create and perform an original short musical for Macaulay SING during his freshman year. A lover of Broadway shows, he says that with a campus in New York City, he saw as many shows as he could.

Ultimately, however, it is the world stage that is Hunter’s life calling. “I hope to be a facilitator of U.S.-China relations. In the long-term, I would like to be known as someone who helped ensure the United States and China developed and maintained a positive relationship, worked to reduce strategic mistrust and tensions, and increased cultural understanding and ties between the American and Chinese peoples.

Macaulay student with noodles in restaurant during study abroad trip to China