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Deliveryman Mao Zhaomu dropped out of high school after his first semester, but now the self-taught English learner has been admitted to one of China's top foreign studies universities.
The 18-year-old first hit the headlines in March after sending a text message in English to one of his customers, a student at Sichuan International Studies University.
"Hello, your phone was power off when I called you. Your meal have been put by me on the vending machine. Please carry it home after you see the message. Thank you. Have pleasant meal."
Surprised to receive a message in English from a deliveryman, the student posted a screenshot of it to Weibo. The post soon went viral.
Mao explained at the time that he sent the message in English to practice his language skills, and because he thought all SISU students would be sure to understand.
He was inspired to continue his language education by his former high school English teacher, who gained admission to SISU by taking the university's self-taught entrance examination.
"My English teacher was also a self-taught exam student," Mao said. "I believed I could do that too."
China's Higher Education Examinations for Self-taught Learners were introduced in 1981, to offer a route of admission to those who would not otherwise be able to attend university.
The system operates under the assumption that motivated students have the capacity for autonomous learning and are able to find whatever additional tuition or support they may need within community.
After dropping out of school, Mao had found work as a deliveryman for a restaurant located near the SISU.
He also got a job at a nearby bar to "talk with foreigners", chatted in English-language groups online during his spare time and made friends with a study buddy from the United States.
He took the SISU's self-taught entrance exam in July and was admitted to the university earlier this month.
"Now, when I walk onto campus, I am not a deliveryman anymore but a student," Mao said, adding that his dream is to become an interpreter and take part in talk shows on CCTV in future.