Shanghai, Beijing alumni chapters give back to Penn State

April 12, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – When the spread of COVID-19 hit China two months ago, a group of Penn State student groups stepped up to send medical supplies to overwhelmed hospitals in Wuhan. Now that the coronavirus has spread to the United States, Penn State alumni are returning the favor to University Health Services. 

Members of the Shanghai and Beijing Penn State alumni chapters have organized some relief efforts for U.S. hospitals who are now overwhelmed. 

A shipment of masks in boxes with a piece of paper with Chinese writing and "We Are!" written on it

Beijing and Shanghai alumni groups came together to send a shipment of masks to University Park.

IMAGE: Penn State

Together, the two chapters combined to raise over $3,500 in equal amounts to purchase 1,000 N95 masks and 3,500 disposable surgical masks to send to University Health Services (UHS) in a time when there are severe shortages of these supplies. The donors asked to be left anonymous.

In addition, Xu "Jax" Yan, a 2014 graduate of the Smeal College of Business, has donated 1,100 masks to Penn State. The first of these shipments arrived at UHS on April 1, and the second shipment will arrive next week.

“I wanted to take action to make life better,” said Yan. “That’s Penn State’s motto, right? ‘Making Life Better’?”

The two chapters are actively engaged with their members, each other, and Penn State. The Beijing Chapter has 450 members and routinely organizes events such as dinners, football watch parties, and opportunities to share their experiences in the job market post-graduation, though currently in-person activities have been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Shanghai chapter, with almost 600 members, puts on many of the same events, and sometimes works with other Big Ten alumni chapters to put on joint events, such as Christmas parties.

When the groups saw the extent of the outbreak in the U.S., they knew they needed to help their alma mater.

“As we all know, the COVID-19 outbreak is bringing unprecedented challenges to many places of the world, including Shanghai, Beijing, and the state of Pennsylvania,” said one member of the Shanghai Alumni Chapter. “As the international official alumni branches, Penn State Alumni Association Shanghai and Beijing Chapters donate these masks to UHS in hopes they could help distribute the goods to those in need in Penn State medical system.” 

'We Are' stories

The “We Are” spirit is perhaps more important than ever before, and Penn Staters everywhere are coming together in new and amazing ways. During these challenging times, our community is continuing to realize Penn State’s commitment to excellence through acts of collaboration, thoughtfulness and kindness. As President Eric Barron has written on Digging Deeper, this truly is a “We Are” moment — and we want to hear your “We Are” stories. 

Visit to share how you or other Penn Staters are supporting each other to overcome the collective challenges presented by the novel coronavirus. We are! 


Last Updated April 23, 2020