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Spring 2015 - Newsletter #3

Class of 2015........................................................................................................................
Justin Meng Gives AAE an A

"At Wisconsin there are so many good departments that you can open yourself up to more learning opportunities than at other schools," says Qingrun "Justin" Meng, an AAE senior and RENK scholar who is heading to Cornell for graduate school next fall. "I tried 3 majors here before settling on ag and applied economics in my sophomore year. I was pre-business, then I studied physics and statistics, but I like this department because we work on applied topics and the professors are nice."

Justin Meng

Meng, who started at UW as a freshman and who hails from Dongguan, China, spent each summer interning back home at a bank, an investment security company, a food processing operation, and finally China's largest snack maker now owned by Nestle. With these experiences, and his own youthful encounter with Melamine-tainted, state-supplied children's milk, Meng gravitated to the food system as a potential career.

"It was cool to be studying stock market reports when all of my friends were just reading novels."

This past year, he has helped Brian Gould develop a pricing model for Class III milk, and he also joined Sheldon Du's commodity trading teams that competed with 400 others nationally. "We didn't make it into the finals, but doing this gave me a good feel for what traders do for a living," said Meng.

Learning the ins and outs of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange may have come easier for Meng than for most students. When he was still in high school, he used the money given by his family at New Year to start investing in the stock market. "It was cool to be studying stock market reports when all of my friends were just reading novels." He eventually made enough to pay for part of his college tuition. "My parents are both government employees and would never have earned enough to send me to college in the U.S. if they hadn't invested their savings," Meng explains.

He chose Wisconsin because of its higher ranking and low tuition compared with peer schools. "In the old days in China, people talked about 'Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Madison' as the top schools. Now that the private schools have a lot more money that has changed," he said.

Meng feels he has gained a solid foundation for grad school by studying hard, avoiding the frat party scene, and seeking mentoring from faculty. "In AAE, professors will give you lots of time even if they are not your advisor. You just have to overcome your shyness and ask," he said.

"Last year I spent 90% of my time working on Brian Gould's (Economic Decision Analysis) class, but that will turn out to be one of my most useful classes," Meng reports. He enjoyed being part of the Ag Business Club and sampling AAE's range of courses in development, farm management, energy economics, and ag finance. "I'm sorry I didn't take an environmental economics class, but energy is one of the fields I may choose at Cornell."

After earning his master's, Meng hopes to work for a U.S. company doing consulting in China, whether to help his home country with energy issues or problems of food distribution. But first, he plans a summer road trip to show his family the California coast, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, New York, Chicago and of course Madison.

Last updated on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 10:21am