Since graduating from Wilson in 2011, Xiaomeng has begun working toward a Master of Arts degree in new arts journalism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She anticipates graduating from SAIC in 2013.
New arts journalism is one of SAIC's newer graduate school programs and it focuses on educating journalists who will specialize in reporting on art and cultural events and issues, according to Xiaomeng.
"We write about art (mostly reviews) from a journalistic approach," Xiaomeng said. "We may also incorporate some multimedia skills later on. Next semester, we are going to have a class that's specifically about web writing."
In the past, Xiaomeng's career goal had been to one day start her own magazine to promote cultural communications. "I'm not sure if that's still my goal," she said. "Though I still write about art and culture a lot, I feel there are more options that I need time to explore."
The transition from Wilson to SAIC was difficult for Xiaomeng. "The difference between a small city and a big city, between liberal arts and art school, is very intense and sometimes intimidating," she said. "Every encounter, problem or challenge has its value in my growth. Everything that happens in my life will help me figure out what I want to do and want to be."
Xiaomeng, who is a student worker in SAIC's Marketing/Communication Department, has been able to interview several artists and curators for the school’s radio station, including famed sound artist Bill Fontana.
Xiameng made the most of the liberal arts experience she had at Wilson. In her senior year, her photos were shown in an exhibition called “It’s All About You.” In 2010, she designed the winning poster for the Orr Forum on Religion and also received third prize in the Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. In 2009, she won the Joanne Hopkins Award for poetry. She completed two internships, one at the Public Opinion newspaper in Chambersburg and one at Pittsburgh Magazine, where she interviewed people and wrote stories but primarily worked as a fact checker. In her senior year, she was co-editor of the Billboard.
“Wilson has helped me in every way of my life. I'm not exaggerating. It has perhaps shaped my entire life up to now,” Xiaomeng said. “It taught me to really think about who I am and what I want to do. It prepared me to dream big and not be afraid of potential consequences.”