My Life as a Chinese Graduate Law School Student in San Francisco


Aileen Ping Huang is a graduate of the Doctor of Judicial Science (SJD) (’14) program at Golden Gate University specializing in International Commercial Arbitration.

When I was admitted to Golden Gate University Law School’s SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) program, I was very excited. I dreamed of getting my doctorate ever since I started teaching in China at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Zhongnan Campus. I wanted to study in the U.S. for a few reasons: to learn about U.S. law because it has a common law system rather than China’s statutory law system; to introduce U.S. case law to China for academic research and China’s ongoing legal reform; and to experience legal education at a U.S. law school. Most of all, GGU has an excellent SJD program for international students that I could not find in a lot of other law schools.

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Starting My Journey

My contact with GGU, from my first inquiry through admission, was so pleasant that I felt immediately welcomed as an international student. The journey started with orientation week for new students where GGU staff introduced us to our peer mentors who would facilitate our studies and lives in San Francisco. They were well-informed about how to survive school (and ace every semester!), rent an apartment, get around on BART trains, and sign up for mobile cell phone service. As international students, we had no idea where to find housing and needed information on San Francisco renting. GGU gave us what we needed to figure out where to live and connected us with other students who might be able to share a place.

Some international students like me, whose native language is not English, would run into various problems. Nevertheless, we were never left to fend for ourselves and fortunately were given timely help from GGU staff.

Touring San Francisco

The most fun part of orientation week was the tour of San Francisco in motor carts. The student advisor of the law school international studies led the trip. He introduced the history of each place we visited. Along the way, our peer mentors told us about nice places to shop, dine, exercise, and have fun.
As law students, our lives can be hectic and stressful at times. I recharged by going to exotic places in the city we discovered together. Of course, above all places, Chinatown is my favorite. Although it has a large Chinese population, it is only a physical replica of China and a far cry from modern China! I like tasting various Chinese food options, but they are not quite authentic because they are Americanized. Yet, it has some flavor of my hometown, which soothes my homesickness.

At the GGU Sompong Fulbright Symposium on International Law in 2013. Left to Right: Chen, Li (law professor from Shanghai Fudan University School of Law); Professor Arthur Gemmell (GGU adjunct professor); Aileen, and classmate Weiwei Zhang (GGU SJD candidate).


At GGU you will have no problem connecting with your fellows through various events jointly held by GGU and different groups and organizations. GGU alumni work in various organizations and businesses. This establishes a good avenue for us to develop friendships, to have fellowship, and, more importantly, to land future work opportunities. I am a member of the Asian American Bar Association and I got to know some Chinese-American lawyers at a networking event. I shared with them my interest in legal translation and they offered me a volunteer opportunity that I am still committed to.

Doctoral Journey

The main part of my journey at GGU law school was the doctoral research paper. It was no doubt a gigantic project, which took lots of time and effort to finish. What was encouraging to us was that the Law School committee members were always there for us; so we kept making progress until our dissertations were finished.

Aileen on graduation day

As my research was about Chinese arbitration and culture, I took the International Commercial Arbitration course, which was taught by Professor Arthur Gemmell. I was fascinated by this course not only because it was the topic of my research, but also because he did a great job drawing our attention to the key issues and giving us challenging case analysis assignments. With his instruction, I developed new reasoning and analytical skills by the end of the term.

The chair of the International Legal Studies, Professor Christian Nwachukwu Okeke, showed great concern to international students throughout the process. Considering the challenge of writing the dissertation in English, he assigned Professor Nancy Younge as our technical coach to help us with issues of formality, structure, and grammar in our papers.

Aileen (center, sitting) and students of the Comparative Law course taught by Professor Christian Okeke (directly behind her).

There seemed to be nothing GGU had not considered to help international students, from the beginning to the end of the program. GGU makes me feel at home in the U.S. Regardless of what part of the world you come from — or what race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or age you may be — GGU opens its arms to embrace you. Whatever you need here, GGU cares and is ready to help. That is the spirit of GGU and that is the spirit that makes GGU shine!

About Dr. Aileen Ping Huang

Before moving to the U.S., Dr. Aileen Ping Huang earned the BA degree in Chinese Language and Literature at Wuhan University, and the JM (Juris Master) degree specializing in International Environmental Law at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law. She taught Professional English and the Fundamental Law bilingually at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Zhongnan Campus. She also taught Chinese to foreign experts when she was the coordinator of the University’s international office. She came to the U.S. in 2007 and started her legal study at the LL.M U.S. legal studies at California Western School of Law, and later devoted herself to the SJD (Doctor of Judicial Science) program at Golden Gate University specializing in International Commercial Arbitration, earning an SJD doctoral degree in May 2014. She is currently studying Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, and Probate Law at GGU, and plans to sit on the California bar. Currently, she is researching Chinese law and culture. She is also active in rendering voluntary legal services in mediation, arbitration, legal interpretation for nonprofit organizations such as Asian American Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, San Francisco Community Boards, and the SF Homeless Supportive and Housing. She is a member of the San Francisco Bar Association, and a member of the Asian American Bar Association.

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A Great U.S. Business School For Students from India:  A Personal and Professional Journey


Hussain Aziz Sham is enrolled in the Masters in Marketing program, a member of the Student IT Advisory Board, a Graduate Student Assistant in the GGU eLearning Department, and vice president of the GGU Marketing Club.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s a well-known proverb by Lao Tzu but indicative of the start of my personal and professional journey toward becoming a Brand Manager at a luxury brand company. Last August, I arrived at GGU in San Francisco with blessings from loved ones and lots of excitement – much like my fellow international students who come from India, or China or the Middle East. I was born and raised in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, but I am Indian by ethnicity. Like many other students who come to GGU, I am experienced in my field with five years of managerial experience. I spent the last two and a half years at a company called RK Swamy BBDO in Mumbai, India.

San Francisco by Design

As an international student, you can expect to be asked why you chose GGU. First of all, GGU is in the heart of the city. In the Financial District, I am walking distance from the most “happening” business in San Francisco like Salesforce, Twitter, LinkedIn, Deloitte and JP Morgan.

Salesforce Tower

If you are a design snob like me, you will truly appreciate the complex and modern architecture of the city. From traditional and historical landmarks like the Palace of Fine Arts, City Hall, and Civic Center to the ultra-modern buildings like the Salesforce Tower, Transamerica Pyramid and the skyscrapers of the Financial District. The city also offers an array of fun and exciting attractions and activities like the Pier 39, the Dungeon of SF, night tours of the Alcatraz Island, Lands’ End, Red Wood Forest, and the walking tours of the city.

GGU student body is a global and diverse community. You will have the chance to meet, collaborate and make friendship with students who come from all over the world – India, the Middle East, China, and others — and bring their unique experience into classroom discussions and projects.

I am now in my second term of the Masters in Marketing program, and I am very busy. I am a member of the Student IT Advisory Board, a Graduate Student Assistant in the GGU eLearning Department, and vice president of the GGU Marketing Club. The members of the club and I will be participating in the Marketing Edge competition this year, which challenges student teams to produce a marketing plan to solve a real marketing problem posed by a real company.

GGU students at the Career Meetup with the PR firm Weber Shandwick

I also answer the “Why GGU?” question by saying an education here not only offers you a stepping stone into your desired field of interest but also gives you a chance to have an all-around development in your personal and professional aspects of your life. GGU offers a professional atmosphere to learn and grow in your field of interest. I would describe it as an intimate learning experience because of its relatively small class sizes and case-study teaching method that encourages us to interact with each other and professors.

The comprehensive curriculum is taught by experienced industry professionals and headliners in their respective areas of expertise. Professor Blodwen Tarter, who is Chair and Professor of Marketing and Public Relations programs, truly inspires me. Her passion for marketing is infectious, and my conversations with her turn into brainstorming sessions. Another professor who has made a difference to me is Professor Heather Cowan-Spiegel, who is the Director of Learning and Organization Development at Autodesk. Her classes are highly interactive and thought-provoking, helping us become better team members.

The Art of Networking

An important part of the American professional culture is the art of networking. This skill helps you enhance your industry knowledge and build symbiotic relations with professionals in your field. Like many other international students, networking was a foreign concept to me. GGU’s Office of Career Planning helps students like me to develop that skill through the “Networking Bootcamp” workshops, and organize online and on-campus networking and recruiter panel events. It’s a good place to practice and become comfortable with this newly acquired skill.

At the 2017 Connected Marketer Summit (far right)

These workshops have given me the confidence to attend career and professional development events organized by the Lagrant Foundation at a huge PR agency called Weber Shandwick and innovative mega-firm Hitachi. These meetups were a great opportunity to peek into the real world of marketing and gain technical know-how on new industry trends and skills needed – for example, in digital marketing, content management, mobile marketing or any other area that might be of interest to you.

Mobile and Luxury Marketing

Another networking event was the 2017 Connected Marketers Summit. This event was specific to Mobile Marketing and a great chance to understand its applications in various industries — from pharma to retail. At this event, I had the opportunity to meet with Brian Wong who is the CEO and Founder of Kiip: a mobile app platform company that rewards its users when they complete a task. For example, when you finish a three-mile run, you might receive a notification saying “Congrats on completing your daily target, here is a $10 coupon from Jamba Juice. Redeem it via our app.” Kiip is a platform that enables all kinds of brands to make very specific offers directly to consumers in the context of their daily lives. Interesting, right?

One of my keen areas of interest is marketing luxury products or services. The Connected Marketers Summit got me thinking about the application of mobile marketing in the luxury segment. A common challenge with any premium service is to generate the psychological perception of exclusivity and high status. The personal and in-person communication that is fundamental to luxury marketing is a critical part of marketing in this segment but is often absent in the mobile experience. Can mobile marketing provide that kind of experience for the luxury customer? This question is on my mind, and I will be researching this matter in detail throughout my degree program.

If you have any questions about being an international student at GGU, connect with me on LinkedIn!

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Riding the Wave of Business Analytics: An Interview with GGU Adjunct Professor Arshad Khan

Arshad Khan, M.E, MBA, is an IT professional with expertise in business intelligence built over a 30-year career. He will be teaching Data Visualization and Storytelling as part of Golden Gate University’s new master’s degree program in Business Analytics. 

What are big data and data analytics?

Big Data refers to datasets or combination of datasets whose size and complexity is beyond the ability of conventional technologies and tools, such as relational databases, to capture, store, manage, and analyze within the time necessary to make them useful. Data Analytics is the collection of disciplines that use data for providing insight and helping make better decisions.

Why do business analytics skills matter?

People with analytics skills provide organizations with valuable and timely information that they can use to improve products, manage costs, and increase revenue. No organization can expect to compete or operate efficiently unless they understand what their data says.

If anyone wants to ride the wave of a growing field where there will be numerous high paying jobs for the foreseeable future, getting a degree in analytics will help them.

Can you describe a business analytics project that you have been involved with?

At Juniper Networks, I led a development effort that involved merging data from two independent systems to produce a flexible report which enabled us to analyze how we were doing against our competitors (such as Cisco, HP, and others) using various criteria (such as deal size, product family, geography, etc.). Without the ability to analyze data that was scattered, we were running blind.

What is your current job?

The company I work for, Modemetric, has developed a Business Intelligence analytics product that we think addresses a need in the market for a robust, secure, and flexible tool. Its Lantern product enables a self-service model in which non-technical people can create sophisticated reports.

Adjunct Professor Arshad Khan works at Modmetric, a company
that provides a Business Intelligence tool known as Lantern

What do you teach in the Master of Science in Business Analytics program at GGU?

Data Visualization and Storytelling is a class I teach where students will learn various aspects of data visualization—from theory to practice. They will also be introduced to a data visualization tool, which will be used for developing a project that will be assigned in this class.

What can you say about a business analytics career?

Data generation is increasing exponentially. If anyone wants to ride the wave in a growing field where there will be numerous high paying jobs for the foreseeable future, getting a degree in analytics will help them. There is currently a big shortage of analytics professionals, and this shortage is going to get worse in the foreseeable future. Data scientists are often the highest paid professionals at a company and can write their own salary ticket these days. Business analysts and analytics pros are among the most highly sought professionals. Go to Glassdoor and do a search for business analytics and you will see the latest salary ranges in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Culturally Sensitive Mental Health Treatment for War-Traumatized Syrian Children

In the Middle East, learning from and respecting the culture of the population we are working with is a necessary step that will help build trust, understanding, and acceptability of evidence-based mental health interventions. Culturally informed conversations with Syrian refugees, for example, will help them become more aware of the treatment approaches available to them and give them more agency in their treatment. This will also support the development of new treatment programs better suited to their needs.

HeadHealth (, an organization I founded in 2016, is dedicated to funding, designing, and implementing quality, evidence-based and culturally appropriate mental health services for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The organization strongly rejects the idea of implementing a Western-style treatment program that does not adequately take into consideration the needs and culture of the local populations being served – for example, work with war-traumatized Syrian children living in Jordan.

Mental health programs must align treatment modalities with the cultural values and clinical needs of a given person or population. Making relevant adaptations to traditional (Western) psychotherapeutic treatment modalities for global populations will help reduce the fear, uncertainty, and uneasiness with mental health treatment in general.

Wajdi Fakhoury on a trip to Jordan in 2016, where he decided to form HeadHealth.

I would like to describe how certain aspects of traditional psychotherapy could be adapted for Middle Eastern populations using HeadHealth as an example.

Addressing the Language Barrier in Mental Health Services
Often, mental health providers from international organizations lack the language skills necessary to communicate effectively with consumers of mental health services abroad. The utilization of an interpreter and the general lack of cultural understanding around symptomology, diagnosis, family, and societal norms greatly affect the development of the all-important therapeutic relationship between provider and consumer. There should be no dependence on translators during interventions. HeadHealth’s culturally and linguistically trained US-based clinical team empowers local professionals to speak with children in their own language.


Involving Syrian Families in Mental Health Treatment
Studies have indicated that many individuals from Middle Eastern backgrounds are suspicious of seeking treatment that is culturally incongruent. Emphasizing the normative and traditional role of family and — better yet — actively involving and incorporating family members in treatment activities, enables HeadHealth to overcome some of the limitations of traditional Western psychotherapeutic approaches. This is typically preferred by the non-Western, community-oriented populations we work with.

Many studies indicate that in the Middle East, individual “talk-therapy” is often perceived to be contrary to the cultural norm that insists private family affairs not be discussed with outsiders. HeadHealth’s current program does not engage consumers in individual therapy but instead emphasizes community, group, and family work.

Western approaches emphasize the individual. HeadHealth invites the parents, siblings, cousins, friends, aunts, and uncles to engage with HeadHealth’s materials to reduce the mental health implications of war trauma for children.

Fakhoury on his 2016 Visit of Jordan
“I saw thousands of Syrian children who were devastated by the loss of  family, community, and country. The cry of one inconsolable Syrian child searching for the parents, siblings, and friends he knew were no longer alive haunts me to this day.”

Gender and Psychology in the Middle East
HeadHealth recognizes that what is socially acceptable about gender interactions in the West may be far from acceptable in some communities in the Middle East. Many families and communities in the region may not feel comfortable with a female family member engaging with male service providers and vice versa; therefore, HeadHealth utilizes the expertise of both female and male providers. Being aware of differences between Western and Middle Eastern cultures may help alleviate unnecessary tension and may help the mental health program become more approachable to certain communities.

Religious Sensitivity
HeadHealth is not political and is not affiliated with any religion. HeadHealth emphasizes an organization-wide culture that stresses the need for its entire staff to respect all religions. Islam has penetrated almost every aspect of life in much of the Middle East – even in the lives of Middle Eastern people who are not Muslim. Disrespecting Islam will almost certainly influence the therapeutic alliance between a service provider and consumer in much of the Middle East and will likely add to any existing suspicion of mental health treatment and services.

Communication Style
Several studies suggest that many consumers in the Middle East prefer an authoritative and directive style from their treatment providers. In the current program, HeadHealth has implemented an approach aligned with this preference. The consumers’ need to feel confident in the expertise of their provider is met without employing tactics that promote an all-powerful image of the provider.

HeadHealth is concrete in how it communicates to consumers about the role of each treatment activity and what each treatment activity targets. HeadHealth avoids using unnecessary clinical jargon and other languages that might hinder the all-important process of engagement and collaboration with consumers.


Mental Health Stigma in the Middle East
It is common for people in the Middle East to engage traditional healers, religious leaders, or family members before seeking out formal psychotherapeutic services. Although Western and non-Western mental health treatment approaches do not always complement one another, it is crucial to respect what individuals and families want. Building a bridge of respect and curiosity between even seemingly contradictory treatment approaches is a valuable tool that helps HeadHealth better understand the needs of the diverse populations it serves and helps break down the stigma that prevents many from accessing its crucial services.

All images used in HeadHealth’s clinical material are sensitive to the cultural and societal norms that dominate the region where we are working. For instance, perceived intimacy between males and females (holding hands, being alone in a room, etc.) will not appear in any of the material.

The trauma-informed children’s book incorporates images depicting immediate and extended families and communities rather than only individuals. For example, we are working in Jordan, where the scenes depicted in the clinical material are relevant to the Syrian children who live there.

These culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies also have implications for Western mental health professionals who want to work effectively with immigrants from the Middle East. With millions of refugees bringing their war trauma with them, Western practitioners must be well prepared to provide them with effective mental health interventions.

Wajdi Akef Fakhoury, MA, IMFT and Ph.D. Candidate is an alumnus of Golden Gate University’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program. Please support HeadHealth on its GoFundMe page.

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Professor Jay Gonzalez Trains American Soldiers on Philippine Relations

Diplomacy in the Boxing Ring

Golden Gate University Professor Jay Gonzalez is Chair of the Department of Public Administration, who has provided consulting to governments, nonprofits, corporations, and the military over his 18-year career. He also describes himself as a product of the Philippine ROTC system established by the U.S Army.


Recently, Dr. Gonzalez gave a presentation called “Philippines: Country Briefing” to officers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington, who will be deploying for Pacific Pathways, which are joint military exercises between the United States and Asia-Pacific allies.

Through the Naval Postgraduate School’s Leadership and Sustained Peace Program, he teaches U.S. armed forces personnel how to better relate to their Filipino military and civilian counterparts. His work helps operational and strategic effectiveness, reduces miscommunication, and fosters cross-cultural understanding.

A boxing lesson is also part of the training. Dr. Gonzalez says: “Boxing is big in the Philippines and I learned my boxing from there. Since my country brief is about the Philippines I usually provide them with a couple of boxing combinations: jab, straight, uppercut, and overhand right! It makes for better bonding between our troops and their Philippine counterparts.”

Other outside-the-ring topics he discussed were the ups-and-downs of U.S.-Philippines relations (and whether President Trump and Philippine President Duterte will be able to work together); Philippine security assessment including communist and Muslim insurgencies; terrorist extremist groups; and Philippine culture, history, religion, politics, geography.

GGU Connection

51-jukvhjolDr. Gonzalez says: “You cannot talk about Public administration without knowing about national defense, foreign relations, politics, and cross-cultural communication. GGU has an Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program with a Law Enforcement and Security concentration. ‘Security’ means national security and helping our Asian-Pacific allies to go after terrorist networks before they get to the United States. In the EMPA, we have faculty members and students (a lot!) who are military veterans. Discussing military and veterans’ issues is an important part of our classroom experience.”

Dr. Gonzalez has written extensively on Philippine boxing and diplomacy, soft power diplomacy or public diplomacy, including his book From Pancho to Pacquiao: Philippine Boxing in and Out of the Ring.

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