Wayland professor celebrates first July 4 as U.S. citizen

Charles Huang, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, displays his certificate of citizenship after taking the citizenship oath in Lubbock. (PHOTO/Courtesy of Wayland Baptist University)

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PLAINVIEW—For Wayland Baptist University professor Charles Huang, this July 4 holiday was like none he had experienced before. It marked his first Independence Day as a U.S. citizen.

Huang, assistant professor of exercise and sport science, took the oath of citizenship June 26, completing the process to become a citizen. His wife, Yan Wang, took the oath a little more than a month before.

Grew up in China

The couple—who grew up in China—participated in the process together. His citizenship took a few extra weeks, because he wanted to change his legal first name to Charles—easier for Americans to remember and pronounce than his given name, Chaoqun, which he kept as his middle name.

Huang (pronounced Whong) arrived at Wayland in 2012 after serving as a visiting professor at the University of Utah and falling in love with the United States. Huang holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in education from East China Normal University, but he dreamed of earning a Ph.D. from an American university.

He arrived in Utah in August 2007. Shortly after beginning his doctoral program, he started the application process to bring his wife and daughter, Yingzhi, to the United States.

When his family arrived, he said, they immediately felt at home in the United States.

Found faith in Christ

Although Huang came to the United States to pursue his education, he found much more. He found friends, freedom and faith in Christ.

A friend took him to church and introduced him to a God unlike what he had heard of in his native China, he said.

“In the church in the United States, we talk about the love—God’s love. And people love each other,” he said.

Huang didn’t grow up in church and never was introduced to the gospel until moving to the United States.

“That’s amazing,” he said. “When I first attended worship, Sunday worship, and sung the songs, I felt filled, and felt tears in my eye. I don’t know why.”

Huang soon became a Christian, and his newfound faith made a huge impact on his life.

“The first thing is God knows me, and God leads me to fulfill my dreams and leads me to the right way to live,” he said.

‘God has a plan for me’

“Previously in China, because of China’s education, we focused on man’s effort to fulfill the dreams. But after I know God, I think the Father has a plan for me. I also need to do something, but God has a plan for me. I just need to follow God’s plan and do those things.”

While Huang said his relationship with God changed him spiritually, it also made a readily observable change in his life.

“I feel my temper has also changed a lot—especially when teaching,” he said.

Teaching in China focused on getting the desired results, and that meant forcing students to learn, he explained. With the change in his life, he discovered encouraging students rather than getting angry at them as a better way to approach education.

“It changed me a lot. I feel I am nicer, much nicer than in China,” he said.

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