Chinese Alumni Story - DJ Pollino

DJ Pollino ’22

Like DJ, you can take advantage of a special opportunity (CLIP-B) for ROTC cadets at Wheaton College to be paid up to $3000 per academic year for studying Chinese language and culture. Check the link to find out more.

DJ Pollino Q1: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

A1: My name is DJ Pollino and I will be a Junior at Wheaton this fall (2020). I grew up in West Chicago which is about 10 minutes from Wheaton's campus, so I am very familiar with the school and area. I enjoy being involved on campus and participate in many activities and clubs at Wheaton such as Wheaton Men's Club Soccer, intramural sports, Go Guide, hockey, and ROTC. While at Wheaton, I have made some amazing lifelong friendships and look forward to the second half of my college career.

Q2: What brought you to studying Chinese?

A2: I started taking Chinese my freshman year of high school. As mentioned, I grew in the area and attended Wheaton Academy High School. When I was a freshman there, it was the first year that the school was offering a Chinese course. I liked the idea of knowing multiple languages and had already taken Spanish for a couple of years before high school. Chinese sounded very interesting and I needed a language credit so I figured I would try it out. Long story short I ended sticking with Chinese for all four years of high school and had a great time. I started with around 25 other Chinese students my freshman year, and by the end of my senior year of high school there were only five of us left. I think most of the students had met their requirements for language and decided not to continue, however Chinese is often referred to as "the language of the future." This being said, I decided to stick with Chinese because I knew it would present some great career and life opportunities in the future because of how unique the language is.

Q3: What is your career plan, and how may your proficiency in Chinese play a role in it?

A3: As mentioned, I am a ROTC cadet at Wheaton. When I originally started taking Chinese I was not sure where it would lead, however I was always interested in taking on a military career so I figured the two would be a nice pairing. I was correct, and I am very grateful to say that I was offered a scholarship from ROTC largely due to the fact that I had proficiency in a critical language, Chinese. As of right now, I am not exactly sure how my Chinese language skills will relate to my future, but I am lucky to have many options and opportunities with my military career in relation to Chinese.

Q4: What do/did you enjoy the most in the Chinese program at Wheaton?

A4: This can be said for a majority of the faculty, but what sets schools apart like Wheaton is the professor to student relationship. One of the things I have most enjoyed being a part of the Chinese program at Wheaton is that my professors, and fellow students, are very intentional and helpful when aiding my learning experience. The Chinese professors make it clear that we can always feel free to approach them with questions about homework, projects, or just life in general. It is very evident that they care deeply for their students and work very hard to give us the best learning experience possible. Another aspect that is unique to Wheaton is that it is very culturally diverse. There are many students from missionary families, exchange students, and students from all over the globe which I have been able to connect with through my Chinese language learning. In addition, most of my Chinese classes have been relatively small which has been great to become closer to my fellow Chinese language learners.

Q5: Could you give some advice to future Chinese majors?

A5: A piece of advice to future students, even if you do not want to major in Chinese, I would highly recommend continuing your Chinese language skills at least to the Chinese Minor level. I know of many students who are pairing their major with a Chinese minor, which not only looks great on your resume, but also presents you with so many future career opportunities. Although it may be difficult at times, your fellow students and professors are here to help you succeed so stick with it!