In the daytime, he was a "sneaker" in the eyes of his classmates; at night, he was a "defender" of XMU campus. Zhou Dexin has worked day after night like this, passing more than 40 exams in five years, and has successfully received a bachelor's degree in law (adult higher education) from XMU.
Zhou comes from Chongqing. He is 51 years old. In the past, he was a soldier and majored in garment making at a technical school. He later took up a job as a security guard in XMU in 2013. In 2014, the College of Continuing Education, Xiamen University opened an evening school for staff and workers with fewer tuition fees required. On hearing the news, Zhou was very excited. His childhood dream of being a lawyer was ignited again. "Peking University has a security guard who studied there, why can't I as a security guard study at Xiamen University?" Hence, he made a brave decision, first receiving education from high school level to junior college level from 2014 to 2016, and then from September 2016 to December 2018, he participated in the undergraduate study through network education of law major.
Zhou had given up learning for more than 20 years but saw this as an opportunity to make a decision that will change his life. He also knew that it was not easy to get a bachelor's degree. In order to squeeze time for learning, he deliberately applied for night shifts so that he could study in the daytime. Although he hadn't studied for many years, facing hundreds of thousands of pages of legal textbooks, he managed to read carefully one page after another. Once he had difficulties in understanding knowledge points, he would go to the School of Law as a sneaker in the classes and asked the teacher besides taking online courses.
During the study period, Zhou prepared for nearly 10 courses each year. He almost passed every exam smoothly, except that of public English class, and he took the exam twice. His graduation thesis, with the theme of legitimate defense, has nearly 20,000 words and span several months of writing. Zhou said he intends to publish two papers each year after graduation so as to keep learning and sensitive to the happenings in the legal world. There are 38 people in his class, and only two of them, including him, have successfully finished all classes and got their bachelor's degree. Zhou said that he should be the oldest graduate, but he is very proud of this degree.
Zhou's wife did not understand the fact that her husband spent five years taking a degree. She always felt that he was wasting his time. Some colleagues did not understand either and felt that it was not necessary. However, in Zhou's view, he was clear that the five years did not be wasted and the result was meaningful.
Obtaining a bachelor's degree is not the end of Zhou's academic career. He has already applied for this year's National Unified Legal Professional Qualification Examination and is confident about the exam. Referring to the future plan, Zhou said that he will still work at XMU even if remaining as a security guard at the school gate. "Serving teachers and students of XMU every day is a way of expressing my gratitude to this school.”
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Working during the day and learning at night is not easy for anyone, let alone Zhou, who has a weak foundation in study. However, he persisted to the end and took a bachelor's degree in five years. In addition to his own persistence, he said that he would also like to thank the "experts" for their help.
Zhou came to Xiamen as early as in 2004. Before he went to XMU as a security guard, he had once set up a street stall and worked in a factory. He admitted that the idea of working as a security guard at XMU was very simple, that is, this job was stable and could spare him the trouble of rushing around.
However, this job opened up a new vision for Zhou. "By getting associations with the teachers of XMU, I realized that some people study not for making a living, but for love." Zhou is very familiar with the academics of Xiamen University, and he is very moved by their spirit of academic pursuit and excellence.
The strong academic atmosphere of XMU has made Zhou reminisce the dream of his childhood. When he was in his teens, he watched the Indian film The Wanderer and was deeply influenced by the justice in the movie. This made him dreamt to be a lawyer who could safeguard judicial justice and defend for fairness and justice. The opening of the staff evening school gave him a chance to achieve his dream.
Zhou said that when first applying for law major, he almost forgot the knowledge he had acquired in the early years. It seemed to be a fantasy to get a degree for me. Fortunately, he met many people who offered help to him at XMU.
The first one Zhou has met was a doctoral student from the School of Management, Xiamen University. They became friends after meeting at the school gate. After completing his doctoral study, the student went to a college in Fuzhou as a teacher, but they still kept in touch with each other. Whenever Zhou encountered obstacles when learning new knowledge, he always received encouragement from this friend. "I invited her to attend my graduation ceremony. I hope that the first photo I take after putting on my academic dress is a one with her." Zhou said that he would like to express his gratitude to this friend in this way.
When Zhou started to attend classes in the School of Law, he was always sneaking into class. He always sat in the last row and had to change his work uniform before going to the classroom. He didn't bring books and sat down to listen to the class, pretending to have a rest there, for fear that the teacher and classmates will recognize him. However, the teachers of the School offered extra help to this special student. Not only did they enthusiastically answer his questions, but some teachers also sent some monographs to the security room for him to study.
For Zhou, the biggest challenge was learning English. He almost knew nothing in this subject and could only start from the basic knowledge. During a summer vacation, a student of the Department of Physics and Mechanical Engineering of XMU met Zhou at the school gate, and the two soon became friends. In the next two years, the student helped him with English, starting with the grammar and slowly progressed to sentence construction. "She taught me carefully and didn’t take any fee. I really appreciate her." Zhou said.
Ding Yanrong, a teacher at the College of Foreign Languages and Cultures, XMU, also encouraged Zhou and taught him how to review. Zhou bought a set of English test papers, keeping practicing by completing at least 2 papers every day. After several months of efforts, he attained a score of 73 points in public English class. This was not easy for people who only studied little English and had left school for more than 20 years.
During the years of working at XMU, for almost all the university anniversaries, Zhou would donate money. Some people did not understand him, thinking that it was unworthy for a security guard with a low salary to make donations. However, Zhou believes this is a way for him to give back to the University. In addition, after learning about the difficulties of students from the western region, Zhou donated money to four poor students through the West Dream project of XMU. When hearing that a student at the School of Management was in need, he also immediately made a generous donation. In 2016, when Typhoon Meranti hit Xiamen heavily, he contributed to the campus reconstruction by donating one month's salary.
Over the past few years, Zhou's generous donations have totaled 20,000 yuan. This, for a security guard with a low salary, was difficult but inspiring.
"Xiamen University has created an atmosphere, and you will be naturally influenced by it when you are on the campus." Zhou said that during his school years at XMU, he was inspired by the school motto of "Pursue Excellence, Strive for Perfection", and always be thankful to his teachers and classmates for lending a helping hand. His story is not just admirable but inspirational and worth emulating, and this is just the beginning for him.