Undergraduate Q&A: Meet HSOC Fourth-Year Yihua Xu

Posted October 5, 2021

Name: Yihua Xu 

Hometown: Shanghai, China 

Degree program: Fourth-year double major in History, Technology, and Society and Mathematics with a minor in Computational Data Analysis

Favorite class: HTS 8803: Quantitative Methods in Social Research 

Favorite professor: Dr. Allen Hyde 

Internships/clubs: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (Summer 2020 at Georgia Tech, Summer 2021 at Emory); TA/PLUS leader for various courses; Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Ambassador; GT 1000 Team Leader


1. Why did you choose to come to Georgia Tech? 

Georgia Tech is a world-renowned institute with programs that I would love to attend. Plus, Georgia Tech is located in Atlanta, a vibrant city full of opportunities. And moreover, there is a direct flight from my hometown Shanghai to Atlanta, and Atlanta is quite warm in climate. : ) 


2. Who or what inspired you to study history, technology, and society (HTS)?  

From a very early age, I got interested in sociology, wondering about how people interact with society, how policies shape society, and how to eradicate poverty. I was also very involved in all kinds of social events when I was young. At the same time, I was quite good at mathematics and actually started to think about the possibility of utilizing mathematical skills in social science. To get both of these skills, I decided to major in both HTS and math. 


3. What’s the coolest research, project, or event you’ve worked on here? 

One research I find particularly interesting and very fun to work on is: I examined the disparity between immigrants’ and native-born Americans’ total household income and looked into which variables predicted immigrants’ total household income. Also, since the research is on the metropolitan Atlanta area, it is particularly useful for those who would like to immigrate to Atlanta to see whether they will fit into the city. Plus, the research is conducted through quantitative analysis (which I am a HUGE fan of). We (shoutout to Dr. Allen Hyde and Saatvik Korisepati) hope to publish our work soon.  


4. What's the greatest challenge you’ve faced at Georgia Tech, and how did you overcome it? 

I am an international student, and my native language is not English. The lack of confidence is really my biggest challenge: I still remember the first semester when I did not even attempt to speak in class, where I was just so afraid of talking in English and afraid of being laughed at. To get out of my comfort zone, I started to force myself to at least talk once every class and go to office hours as much as I can. The first few classes were difficult and challenging for me, but as soon as this habit was formed and I started to like the interaction between myself and classmates, as well as myself and professors, I overcame the anxiety of participating in class. 


5. What is your proudest achievement from your time at Georgia Tech so far? 

Trying a good bunch of things! I am really proud of being a very diverse person who is willing to embrace all kinds of different challenges. I have done two very math-heavy research projects, one sociology-related research project, and one machine-learning research project. I will graduate within four years with two majors and one minor. I have participated in a number of competitions, ranging from Internet of Things to data science challenges. I also take advantage of the flexible course offerings and take some graduate courses to enrich my knowledge more.  


6. What is your #1 piece of advice for incoming students in the School of History and Sociology? 

Know your passion! I think Georgia Tech offers a number of good opportunities for students to explore during their undergraduate studies. The sooner you figure out what you would like to do in the future, the more you can take advantage of from the school. Also, do not limit yourself to only doing one thing! Try different things so that you learn more about what you really enjoy doing. In the HSOC department, you can get great opportunities to work with fantastic faculty members and take advantage of the flexible course options that the HTS major offers. Just get out and explore!!  


7. What’s your biggest, craziest goal after you graduate (aka how do you want to change the world)? 

I would try to pursue a Ph.D. degree in the intersection between Applied Mathematics and Sociology, probably looking into the social network analysis. I can see a career in academia. Ultimately, I still would like to chase my naïve dream of utilizing mathematical methods to solve social problems. :) 

Thank you for sharing your experience, Yihua! Stay tuned on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter for new student spotlights every month. 

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