Kang Shang, a marketing major from China, will graduate from the University of Iowa (UI) in May 2023, and start a new company in Iowa as an expansion of his family business back in China. Learn more about his UI education and future plans as a global entrepreneur through this Q&A piece.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I am originally from Yunnan, China, which is one of the most mysterious and beautiful places in the world. My parents are both entrepreneurs: my mother runs a real estate business, and my father owns a pharmaceutical factory. Under my father’s company, there is a traditional Chinese hospital called Dianhetang, which is a 186-year-old brand. The hospital focuses on helping people with Traditional Chinese Methods (TCM).
When I was a child, I used to go to the mountains, prairie, and deep in the woods with my dad to collect all kinds of herbs. I have kept my love for nature all the way until today. Whenever I have free time, I take my dog to places that can take my breath away, and go fishing, hunting, and meditating. I enjoy these activities and I feel it is a good way to maintain a work-life balance, especially in beautiful Iowa.
What prompted you to pursue your undergraduate studies in business at the UI?
First of all, Tippie is one of the oldest and highest-ranked business schools in the United States; it is my greatest honor to study here. My major is marketing because I think it is the best way to help my family business grow.
My dreams and responsibilities prompted me to pursue my undergraduate studies in business at the UI. I am going to start my first business right after I graduate from the UI, and I really feel I am ready for all the challenges. Tippie, to me, is like a bird's nest, and I was the young bird in the nest, eagerly asking for knowledge and wisdom to grow my wings. Now, Tippie gets my wings ready for the first flight, and I am standing by the edge of the nest, looking forward to seeing what the wonderful business world is like. Thanks for getting me prepared, Tippie!
Can you tell us more about your future business plans?
I always believed that nature knows the answers. Maybe you are an artist who lost your inspiration. You should go to nature because these amazing art pieces that nature has created will inspire you. Maybe you are a philosopher who is lost in your thoughts. You should go to nature because the way nature rules and works will enlighten you. Maybe you are a scientist, a psychologist, a musician, or maybe you are a person who has never put a tag on yourself. Nature will give you the answers in a unique way that you have to understand them with your heart.
I am going to start a business called Zeroality as an expansion of my father’s business in the U.S., and it will be located in Iowa. What Zeroality is going to do is to sell our products to help more people and pass on the wisdom about health that the Yunnan people learned from nature throughout the years of living in the mountains. I plan to pass on the message to you, to everybody, and to the whole world through the power of marketing.
How has the UI prepared you for your new business?
The UI prepared me for this by giving me an education. Knowledge can be passed on in different ways, sometimes through videos, conversations, books, and beyond. But the UI is doing it in very unique ways. All the activities, resources, projects, and learning opportunities that our professors designed and provided for us let the education received at the UI truly become a part of us.
The UI prepared me for this by giving me confidence. Even though we all share the same world, the world can be opened up differently. During my years at the UI, I learned a lot of things through the education system, but most importantly, I learned about myself. I learned my way of learning, my way of seeing, and my way of opening the world up, through all the challenges, experiences, and joy. Now, I can confidently say I am ready.
The UI prepared me for this by giving me the power. All the people I have met here are very important to me. My friends, my professors, and my teammates are my fortune in my present and future. There are too many to count…
How was your experience as an international student on campus?
My experience was great. I remember during the first year, I was trying to adapt to the new environment, but I found it really challenging. It was hard to make friends, it was hard to learn the lectures, and it was hard to be independent in life. My Teaching Assistant from math class was also an international student, and she gave me a lot of advice and encouragement to get me through my hard time which I will never forget. International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is also a great support. ISSS is always sending emails to update us on new activities, reminders, and events. As an international student, I always felt supported and not alone. Some people I met at campus events are still my best friends, even though most of them are on their next journey in life. The UI, ISSS, and I are all proud of them. They made it through so successfully and I will too!
What advice would you give to prospective international students considering the UI?
Choosing the right school is a serious proposition, every school is unique, and I know you are struggling. It is the turning point of one’s life, and your choice will significantly influence you for your whole life. We have all dreamed about our ideal college life, but to me, the UI is beyond imagination. The UI not only gives you what you dreamed of but also provides things beyond that. Choose the UI and you will know yourself better.
This is my last semester at the UI as an undergraduate student. I truly believe I will be missing my life at the UI after I graduate. All the memorable moments during the years will be formed as eternal memories in my soul, and they are the most precious gifts of being a Hawkeye. Once a Hawkeye, always a Hawkeye!
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.