In this post, I wanted to do some reflecting on key memories of my time at Penn. There are certain memories that stick out more than others and some memories that took a little longer to recover. I’ve forgotten how much I’ve been through since coming to Penn my freshman year and this post allows me to reflect on my past and appreciate how much I’ve grown.
Senior year of high school: The Young Scholars Program
During the fall of my senior year in high school, I wanted to take calculus but I also wanted to take AP statistics with my friends. They were both offered at the same time so I could only choose one. As the ambitious student I was, I wanted to definitely take both AP statistics AND calculus. A solution for this was I applied for the Young Scholars Program at Penn, where high school students can take college classes alongside college students. While enrolled in AP Statistics at my High School, I took calculus at Penn after school. This allowed me to experience Penn and also explore my academic interests. I took two calculus courses at Penn during my senior year and loved the experience. It further led me to believe that Penn was the place I wanted to be.
Freshman Year: Joining 5+ Clubs
I came from a small high school with a graduating class of ~60 students. At my high school, there wasn’t many clubs or organizations centered around Asian American activism or cultural communities. When I came to Penn, I was absolutely in love with how many clubs and student organizations there were and wanted to join them all. I later learned that it is physically and emotionally impossible for me to be in so many clubs and I could only choose a few to devote my time to. The Chinese Students’ Association (CSA) was the one I ultimately stuck with and it continues to be a community I adore. CSA is my home away from home and it is a community of people who I can laugh with, joke around with, and struggle with. As per CSA tradition, we have our board retreat every semester and I remember my first retreat was daunting and anxiety inducing. I was afraid of being judged once people found out how weird I was. Not only was I accepted for my weirdness but I also learned that they were just as weird as I was. CSA was a community where I could be my true self and make lifelong friends.
Sophomore Year: Planning Events for APAHW
APAHW is Penn’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Week, held in November. I applied to join the programming committee where we plan and execute events for the week. We worked in teams of 2-3 people per event and it was here where I met my best friend for the first time as we coordinated and planned an event together. That same year, we were able to bring in Helen Zia, a renowned Chinese-American journalist and activist and author of Asian American Dreams. She was able to autograph my book personally and it was great to hear her speak in person.
In addition to meeting my best friend and Helen Zia, I also was able to bond with a great board of people. Although the week was stressful and full of events, we were able to get through it together and it was a great community to be a part of.
Junior Year: Getting Involved with Non-Profits in the Area
After I decided that I would not continue on the pre-med track, I became a psychology major. During the summers before my sophomore and junior year, I interned with two non-profits in the Philadelphia area – Asian Americans United and VietLEAD – through Civic House’s summer internship program. I not only engaged with the very communities that I grew up in, but I also learned a lot about what work needs to be done in our communities still. One big change I’d like to see in our communities is increased access to mental health resources and language resources for non-English speaking members of our community. Philadelphia is a very diverse city and everyone deserves to get the care that they need. Working with these community organizations helped me become more empathetic and also helped me grow as a leader and mentor figure for the students that I worked with.
Senior Year: Becoming more involved in my sorority
Joining Greek life was something I never imagined myself doing but once I was involved, I was enamored with the community within my sorority and also the organizations in the greater Greek community. During my senior year, I took on the role as one of the community service chairs and planned our annual breast cancer awareness fundraiser, Coffeehouse. Coffeehouse is an event full of food, performances, and fun where students gather to spread awareness of breast cancer research and what we can do to help. It was certainly a challenge to plan such a large-scale event and I definitely grew a lot from it. I was also able to join the executive board this semester and utilize my community building skills I learned from the non-profits I worked with. I hoped to use these skills to create a more understanding and tight-knit community within the sorority and leave a lasting impact after I graduate.
There are many other memories that I have reflected on but these are the ones I decided to explore in this blog post. It is hard to believe how much I have accomplished throughout the four short years I’ve been at Penn and it is even harder to believe that I will be graduating from in May. Looking back, there is not much that I regret but a lot of experiences that I am grateful for.