Paying it forward

Former international student creates scholarship to thank K-State for giving him a start

Even though he only spent one year at Kansas State University, Liang “Frank” Wang fondly remembers the kindness of everyone he met at K-State. Wang attended K-State in 1999-2000 as a doctoral student in physics. While he completed his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, that year in Manhattan, Kansas, made an impression. To honor his time at K-State and to help pay the kindness he received forward, Wang has created a scholarship for students studying physics.

Inspired by TV science programs and scientific journals, Wang chose to pursue his doctorate in the United States. He traveled from his home in Nanjing, China, to Manhattan, Kansas, to study at K-State. “In spite of my poor English, I did not feel any culture shock thanks to the kindness of people in Kansas,” Wang said. “I remember during my first week in Manhattan, I stayed in the home of a zoology professor, and I was invited to join their breakfast every day. At first I was scared of their dog, Ginger, but by the end of the week, owing to the kind care and guidance by the family, Ginger and I would sit on the sofa together, peacefully watching TV.”

Wang recounts how he and his classmate and friend would ride their bikes through town to run errands on the weekend. He was struck by the tranquility of the town. Professors on campus also made a big impression on him.

“Although I spent only one year in the physics department, I have good memories of professors there like James Legg, who was the department head, Larry Weaver, who taught quantum physics, and Talat Rahman, professor of solid states physics,” Wang said. “Larry Weaver very much exemplified the spirit of an excellent scholar with a passion and art for teaching. K-State also gave very good training in English to foreign students like me, which set a foundation for me to keep improving my language and professional skills. I remember the smile of Mary Wood, who always encouraged me through difficulty to catch up with the course at ESL.”

K-State’s physics department gave Wang his first home in the United States by granting him admission and awarding him a teaching assistantship. Wang created the scholarship as a way to thank K-State for that opportunity. “I hope my gift can support the physics department in teaching and scholarship,” Wang said. “I love K-State, my first home in the U.S. I encourage students to be involved in the community of K-State and Manhattan, in addition to studying. Let this place and its people grow beauty in your heart.”

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