Where are you from? What brought you to Columbia?
I’m originally from Porter Ranch, California, a sunny suburb in northwest Los Angeles. I came to Columbia as a transfer sophomore, enthralled by its world-class scholars and research in China studies, its location at the crossroads of international diplomacy, and the soaring skyscrapers that surround our campus. Luckily, Columbia turned out to be everything I dreamed of and more.
Where are you in your career as a student in EALAC?
This past February, I graduated from Columbia College with a double major in EALAC and Political Science. Right now, I research U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific and China’s foreign relations for Professor Thomas Christensen with the Columbia-Harvard China and the World Program.
How would you describe your experience as an undergraduate student in the EALAC Department?
My experience with the EALAC Department was both academically rewarding and personally fulfilling. Instructors like Professor Madeleine Zelin, Professor Ulug Kuzuoğlu, and Dr. Benjamin Kindler challenged my preconceptions and strengthened my understanding of China’s dynamic history. Outside the classroom, I befriended incredible graduate teaching assistants willing to sacrifice their time to review concepts with me and provide helpful feedback on assignments. I also met a group of intellectually curious and like-minded students with whom I plan to stay in touch long after we leave behind the cobblestones of College Walk.
What are your plans after commencement?
This summer, I’ll be studying Bahasa Indonesian in Malang, Indonesia, with the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship before pursuing a two-year master’s degree in International Governance and Diplomacy as the 2022 Michel David-Weill Scholar at Sciences Po in Paris. After that, I will attend Harvard Law School.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
Gary Locke, the first Chinese American to serve as the U.S. ambassador to China and governor of a U.S. state, inspires me with his political courage, personal journey, and steadfast commitment to public service.
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
The ability to write—unimpeded by writer’s block, procrastination, or temptation to doomscroll on Twitter—would be much appreciated.
Give us a fun fact about yourself.
My claim to Hollywood fame is serving as a background extra on episodes of Fresh Off the Boat, Henry Danger, and True Detective. If you don’t blink, you might spot me. Look for the kid with spiky hair and a big smile who’s just thrilled to be there.
What has your greatest success as a student?/ What has been your greatest loss? What did it teach you?
My greatest success as a student has been developing long-lasting relationships with professors by regularly attending office hours. In retrospect, my greatest loss is that I did not take more courses outside my specific interest in U.S. relations with East Asia, such as those related to U.S. foreign policy in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and more. Yet these experiences ultimately taught me the importance of keeping an open mind and showed me the joys and privileges of being a lifelong learner.
What are your favorite ways to de-stress? What is your favorite thing to do outside your research/classes?
I enjoy writing stories, watching stand-up comedy and Broadway shows, and playing tennis, squash, and basketball.
What advice would you give to current undergraduate students in your field? What about prospective students?
To students like me who are interested in the U.S.-China relationship, it is critical to learn and know the history behind it. We cannot understand China’s present-day behavior without understanding the historical forces, memories, and experiences that drive it. For prospective undergraduate Columbia students interested in these topics, pick up an EALAC major or concentration! I can’t recommend the experience highly enough.