NYU Shanghai’s Class of 2024 Looks Back on Their Four Years

homepage image of class of 2024 then and now

From move-in day to graduation day, the Class of 2024’s journey has been nothing short of inspiring. These past four years have been a whirlwind of obstacles, growth, and self-discovery for many who have reached this monumental milestone. We sat down with some Class of 2024 students to uncover the transformative impact of their NYU Shanghai experience.



Sophia Alfred ’24

sophia alfred 2020 and 2024

Hometown: Accokeek, Maryland, United States
Major: Interactive Media Arts

Sophia in 2020: 

“I’ve been taking online classes these days. I really look forward to going to Shanghai and meeting everyone in person... I also enjoy dance, music, and soccer, so I’ll continue to explore them and am looking forward to playing on the NYU Shanghai women's soccer team. Hopefully, I can pick up some Shanghainese, too.” 

The journey: Empowering connections through language

“I'm very much in the community, and not only invested in my Chinese, but also other dialects—I learned Chinese sign language, Shanghainese, and Southern Chinese dialects. At the Century Avenue campus, there was a place that I liked to eat at, and I noticed a lot of the workers there were deaf. I watched some videos on the side until I was able to communicate enough, and once I was able to, they had non-stop questions, and I’d just always go there and hang out. I started purposely going out to deaf cafes in Shanghai and Hangzhou, where I have a lot of deaf friends. I post a lot of Tik Tok videos to try to teach [Chinese sign language], and it has opened up something that I can share with other people that many people probably don’t talk about.”

Study away: NYU in Los Angeles

“Last spring at NYU in LA, I was training at major dance studios in person for weeks, 10 hours a day. I really loved explor[ing] that world. LA is really about all the auditions and China's all about dance competitions. I got to pursue dancing, singing, acting…all the entertainments, everything I really wanted to try. I met a few NYU Shanghai students who already graduated but studied away in LA and are now working there. They were very helpful and supportive.” 

Sophia in 2024:

Sophia currently works as a voice actor for a video game company and is looking forward to taking time off after graduation for traveling. She plans on making her way back to Los Angeles to learn more about the entertainment industry and develop her talents in dancing, singing, and acting. Sophia says living in China has been everything she wanted it to be, and more, and she sees herself moving back in the future.


Zhou Yuchen ’24

yuchen before and after

Hometown: Beijing, China
Major: Computer Science
Minors: Mathematics and Philosophy

Yuchen in 2020:

“I look forward to meeting classmates from all over the world and becoming more independent over the four years. I would like to explore different fields that interest me. I want to major in Interactive Media Arts. I am also fascinated by philosophy and would like to study related courses. After four years at university, I want to grow into an individual who is able to take the consequences of my own choices, to do whatever I want boldly without being swayed by considerations of gains and losses.”

The journey: Following her heart and finding fulfillment in coding

“In my very first semester, fueled by a passion for art, I enrolled in an Interactive Media Art (IMA) course. The experience was undoubtedly enriching; the course outcomes were impressive, and the professor was exceptionally supportive. However, I soon realized that pursuing art as a hobby versus making it my career are two completely different things. It was during the IMA course that I was introduced to basic programming concepts, which I was surprisingly good at. So I tried Introduction to Computer Programming in the following semester, where I realized that computer science offered an equally captivating path for creative expression. 

While I may no longer create art through painting, I find fulfillment in coding and crafting innovative solutions. My fascination with philosophy led me to complete a minor in the subject. As I progressed in my studies, I found myself becoming proficient enough to pursue a minor in mathematics alongside my CS curriculum.”

Study away: NYU in New York

“I had a great amount of first-time experiences, like independently planning a trip to Death Valley and renting a car. These experiences fostered a rapid growth in my independence and resilience. Moreover, I was deeply touched by the kindness of strangers. During my GRE and TOEFL exams, the gentleman at the front desk of the testing center always greeted me with encouraging words like, ‘Congrats Miss! You are going to pass the exam today!’ New Yorkers definitely gave me more courage to explore more places around the world.”

Yuchen in 2024:

Yuchen is headed to University of Pennsylvania where she will pursue a master’s degree in Computer and Information Science. Her dream is to make elegant, minimalist, and useful software available on the market in the future. In her spare time, she can still be found painting, often taking requests to design characters or posters for her friends.


Charles  Bingaman ’24

charles bingaman

Hometown: Sacramento, California
Major: Business and Finance (Management Track)
Minor: Chinese 

Charles in 2020:

"I want to live in a truly global city and engage with students from all over the world in a thriving university setting. I am eager to experience China and hopefully get the chance to travel and see some of East Asia during my time at NYU Shanghai. My goal is to not just learn Chinese in the classroom, but also to develop friendships and connections with people, clubs, and communities in Shanghai beyond the bounds of the university. I hope that by the time I graduate, Shanghai will truly feel like home."

The Journey: Shaped by Shanghai

"NYU Shanghai not only gave me the opportunity to see so much more of the world than I expected, but it has shaped me into who I am today. Having never studied Chinese prior to my first year, I was fascinated by the opportunity to immerse myself in a historic and globally relevant city and study one of the most valuable but difficult languages.

By participating in the startup scene, photography clubs, and the Shanghai Hockey League, I was exposed to all types of people and culture, in and of Shanghai. The University has also created so many opportunities to learn and engage. From working as an event photographer with University Communications to attending talks and networking events on campus, to a trip to Yunnan with the Dean's Service Corp—there are so many amazing memories from the last four years.”

I am a better student than I was four years ago, thanks to the academic rigor, challenging classes, and the professors and classmates who pushed me to do better. I am more understanding of China, its cultural identity, and global position, a deep respect that I will carry with me throughout my life. NYU Shanghai was never easy, but it was consistently rewarding, allowing me to grow as a person and to develop what I hope will be lifelong friendships with some truly amazing people."

Study Away: NYU in New York and NYU Abu Dhabi

"Studying away in New York, even as an American, felt like a study abroad experience. Having never been before, it truly felt like another new country, and I had an amazing time. Not only were the academic and social environments quite unique, but the city itself is just an absolute playground of opportunity that encourages you to set your goals high. 

As interesting as New York was, my semester in Abu Dhabi was absolutely the highlight. The amazing visiting student coordinators in Abu Dhabi do a phenomenal job of creating multiple opportunities every week to explore and learn about the UAE and the fascinating culture of the gulf region. Additionally, there is just something special about the academic focus and drive of Abu Dhabi as a campus, which pushes you to not just work hard but to appreciate the incredible people and opportunities that students are exposed to in the region. If I could redo the semester in Abu Dhabi I would, because there is so much to do and see and never enough time for everything! Even with an amazing year abroad at our global campuses, returning to Shanghai was so effortless. It truly felt like I was coming home."

Charles in 2024: 

Charles will continue to explore new languages, cultures, and countries as he moves to France for the next two years, where he has been accepted by HEC Paris’s Master in Management Grande École program.


August Wang Yixiao ’24

august wang yixiao 2020 to 2024

Hometown: Lanzhou, Gansu, China
Major: Interactive Media Arts
Minors: Computer Science; Film

August in 2020:

“Data science is currently my favorite major. After doing a lot of research during the summer, I found data science a prosperous industry and a competitive major at NYU Shanghai, so it will be the top of my wish list. I hope I can combine my interests in sci-fi books and movies with my career after graduation. I also hope I can always care for my family and friends and appreciate the beauty and preciousness of small things in life.”

The journey: Embracing creativity and staying curious

“Looking back, I’ve always been a more creative than mathematical person, but in the environment I’ve always been in, there was only really one path. That’s until I entered NYU Shanghai, which offered me space and time to explore things I’m passionate about and things I’m actually good at. Now I’m graduating with a major in IMA and minors in computer science and film, and I’m happy about my decisions.

Now that I’m studying IMA, lots of the memorable works I read, like The Three-Body Problem, which remains my favorite of all time, still serve as significant inspirations in the work I do. When I started drafting the thesis project for my film minor, I immediately wanted to make something sci-fi and eventually directed a short film named “Laura” discussing the moral impact of generative pre-trained language models. NYU Shanghai opened the door to global education and careers for me while bringing me friends from worldwide. I now have way more options for my next steps in life and feel ready to take them. With the global experience I gained here, I’ve learned to be true to who I am and respect others as they are. Our differences only enrich our world, the best we can do is to keep an open mind and stay curious.” 

Study away: NYU in New York

“The most memorable experience was definitely taking film classes. The New York campus provided more than adequate resources for even non-major students who are interested in the world of film, so I spent half of the credits I had there on a minor in film at Tisch School of the Arts and I definitely don’t regret it. Even though I can hardly see myself working professionally in the film industry in the future, I’ll always have this memory of when I was 20 years old, running all around New York City, making films with friends and aspiring actors. That, to me, is what matters the most in the end and it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me in college.”

August in 2024:

After graduating, August will head back to New York City where he will continue his education in Integrated Design and Media at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.