Daniel XuLi '14: One Shot at Life 

Daniel Xuli is headed to law school after a busy college career working corporate internships while also translating a Chinese book on historical architecture in the Nanjing region.

What made you decide to come to Saint Mary’s and major in politics?

I loved what Saint Mary’s had to offer with regards to the academic quality of the professors and the relationships that professors and students have. I wanted to major in politics for a few reasons. It’s the major to go with in undergrad if you want to pursue law school, and it has one of the widest impacts on communities and individuals.

Where does your work ethic come from?

From my mom. She was never one to allow for slacking or settling and she led by example. I intend to live up to her expectation and then exceed it. I think I’ve always been goal-oriented because I’ve always known what I want and what I have to do to attain it. My mentality is that I get one shot at this life and I fully intend to make the most of it.

What made you decide to pursue a degree in law?

A law degree will allow me to make a meaningful and impactful difference on the lives of others. But I also want to possess an understanding of the law as it allows for me to be better prepared for pursuing politics later on in life, which is an option I’d like to keep open.

What was it like translating a book from Chinese to English in 2010, now in the Library of Congress, about historical Chinese architecture in the region of Nanjing?

Working on the book was amazing. A good translation requires a lot of research and prep work because you have to truly understand the material, and that’s what made this project unique and challenging. It felt great to be part of a large publishing team with foreign colleagues who worked entirely in Chinese. One of the hard parts was coordinating and meeting deadlines given the time zone issue. I would stay up late at night, but then have to get up for classes and go to my regular job during the day. The feeling of having something that you’ve worked on for so long published is just beautiful. It’s actually recently been recognized in China as a text of reference for what good translation looks like.

What has it been like spending many hours working corporate jobs in addition to your classes?

During my four years of undergrad, I’ve usually had between two to three jobs at any given time, that total 40 hours of work a week. It’s really difficult and you need to be disciplined and focused. You’ll have to make some sacrifices. But balancing a rigorous work schedule with school has been an invaluable experience that I would do again. My work has allowed me to gain valuable insight, knowledge and skills that will contribute to my future of being a corporate lawyer.

Who have been your biggest mentors?

I don’t have any specific mentors per se because I believe there is something to learn from everyone you come across. However, I do want to say that my mom is my primary mentor. But I also view a lot of my professors here at Saint Mary’s as my mentors, as many of them have been instrumental to my academic development and the development of my thought process.

What will you take away from Saint Mary’s?

You have to know who you are and what you stand for. Anything can be done if you pursue it and never give up; obstacles will always be there and the only way past them is to address each one. It’s easy to see others accomplish something and assume that it came easy for them, but you never know what they had to do and sacrifice to get to where they are today.

— Paige Gilliard ’15

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