by Abby Herman
Lissa Li, a senior graphic design major, has many different roles to balance as a student at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.
Li was born and raised in the small farming community of Wood Lake, Minnesota, which made the transition to big-city living a bit of a challenge. “Being two-and-a-half hours away from home and a total homebody and introvert, I was torn between Northwestern and another school for months,” explained Li. It wasn’t until her mother reminded her that the burden of debt wasn’t a good enough reason to not go to a school she loved that she decided Northwestern was right for her. Li continued, “I came in with an art major, just knowing I had a talent to draw people well, create stories and characters and make people smile.”
This past July marked a very important event in Li’s life: her wedding. She and her husband Nick met during her freshman year of college and a year later they were engaged. Nick was born and raised in Beijing, China, and immigrated to the United States to attend the University of Minnesota. Li said: “We will be traveling to China this summer so I can meet my in-laws for the first time! Nick’s family doesn’t speak English, so I’ve made learning Chinese my new hobby. I will be taking a class this summer while we’re abroad, and I could not be more excited.”
Li works in Northwestern’s Public Relations and Alumni office as a student graphic designer. She would like to work full time after graduation in a business that does both illustration and design for clients, until she and Nick decide to start raising their family. “I plan on doing freelance while I raise our children full-time, hopefully one day illustrating and writing a children’s book, which has been a lifelong dream,” said Li. “Nick and I have discussed going to live in China, his native country where all of his family resides, to work and possibly participate in a ministry already established, though the timeline of when is blurry, but it’s another thing to pray about.”
Being a part-time student has been an adjustment for Li. “It’s a different world when you’re a part-time student. I definitely feel I am working and surrounded by co-workers more than I’m in the student body and in the classroom, and honestly, it’s wonderful and difficult at the same time,” said Li.
Another adjustment Li has faced is married life. “It’s odd to look around and realize most of the students around you aren’t paying monthly rent, bringing their lunch for 13-hour days on campus, or thinking about a really bad fight you had with your spouse and how you could barely say ‘I love you’ when you left for work in the morning,” said Li. “It’s an in-between world, but I’ve found that it’s something precious that I should cherish, because it’s definitely unique.”
All of these different roles that Li has had to take on have been somewhat of a juggling act. Li concluded: “We have faced so much in the last year, a whirlwind of legal difficulties on top of school, on top of planning a wedding in seven months, on top of Nick graduating college, on top of being newlyweds and learning how to be one. But wow. God had never broken a promise he’s made, nor disappointed.”