“I thought Americans spoke English just like those characters, and I thought I’d understand them because I understood that dialogue,” Hwang recalls. “It was a different story when I landed in Georgia.”
That culture gap can be isolating, but the shy Hwang joined the family-like Taiwanese community at GSU. He married a fellow student in that group, Sherry Hwang (M.B.I.S. ’87), with whom he later founded Pyramid Systems Inc., an information technology business near Washington, D.C.
Their success has enabled them to fund the Jeff and Sherry Hwang Scholarship for GSU students from Taiwan studying CIS in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. The first recipient will be selected this fall.
“We celebrate this scholarship as reflective of what the Hwangs struggled with and overcame,” says Ephraim McLean, CIS department chair. “We hope it’s the first of other gifts that allow alumni to help students ease their way from their home countries to Georgia State.”
The Hwangs hope to bolster the younger generation of the Taiwanese “family” at GSU, subscribing to the Confucian teaching that the order of the world hinges on a well-supported family. With that value comes expectations.
“At first we thought this scholarship would just give students a little help and relief,” Hwang said. “But now I’m hoping this scholarship helps someone truly become a leader, either back in Taiwan or in the U.S. like us. Hopefully it will inspire some other students to be even more successful than we are.”