From Texas to China: One Alumnus’ Journey

Mike McIlvain - Texas State Alum and Journalism Lecturer at the United International College in Zuhai, Guangdong Province, China

Mike McIlvain – Texas State Alumnus and Journalism Lecturer at the United International College in Zuhai, Guangdong Province, China

An Article by Alex Almeraz

Texas State Alum and now Journalism Lecturer, Mike McIlvain, is passionate about his job and is a great example of how to use trying times as motivation.

The Early Years

Mike attended Southwest Texas State back in the late 70’s and graduated in 1978. He first discovered his interest for Journalism and teaching back in high school. Before he entered college, Mike got a job as a General Office Worker for the Houston Texans of the World Football League. During this time Mike was exposed to broadcasting, coaching and marketing, but once he had a conversation with Chronicle Beat reporter, Tony Pederson, Mike knew he wanted to be a sports writer.

He began school at Blinn Community College on a Baseball Manager Scholarship, studying Journalism and after two years, transferred to Southwest Texas State in the fall of 1976. Being a Mass Communications major, Mike switched his focus from Journalism to Electronic Media and threw himself straight into the business by spending his time working for local radio stations.

Life Beyond College

As Mike got more into the radio business he realized it just wasn’t working out for him. “I led myself to believe that my working life would probably go that way after getting my Bachelors degree,” he said. “But the more I got into radio, the more I discovered that it was not the lifestyle I wanted to pursue.” At this point Mike was not sure what he wanted to do and instead just focused on finishing school. He does have one regret though, “I wish I had spent more time concentrating on raising my GPA.”

After graduating, Mike found his passion for the journalism and teaching field once again. He finally got his ‘break’ and entered the teaching field in 2007 at Texas A&M International University in Laredo as an adjunct (teaching assistant). In 2010, Mike became a full time teacher and is now teaching Journalism at the United International College in Zuhai, Guangdong Province, China. He always had a love for traveling, going to Spain 12 times and getting his master’s degree in London. After hearing about his current job from a family friend, he was adamant about applying. He got an interview and landed the job. Mike says, “I think it was a good move, and I would do it again. Not only is it a good career move, but also I met my wife here.”

Life’s Lessons

On his Journalism background Mike says, “the experience that I gained pays off well in lecture, and makes me much more effective than some others, but better grades outside of Journalism would have eased some of the transition.” While Mike enjoys teaching Journalism on a day-to-day basis, he has found that many senior college teaching is aimed at research, but he has yet to settle on any certain area to research. Mike has though, found interest in editing colleagues’ research papers in different fields ranging from sociology to business technology. He has the opportunity to read different subjects of materials and finds it quite interesting.

Mike’s story goes to show that life may lead you on many paths or journeys, but eventually you will find the right one for you. Mike offers one last piece of advice for all students, “Before I give my students a syllabus, whether or not they have had me or not before — they receive a handout and lecture on the importance of asking questions. It is a must for journalists, and certainly important for anyone intent on becoming a good college student. I had to work at becoming a good college student. It took a while, but I do not like to give up on any student, starting with myself.”


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