At age 14, Yanqing Zhao ’19 left her family and home to attend school in America. As a high-schooler, she devoted her free time to community service. Today, she’s an economics major and a certified income-tax preparer with plans to help effect positive change on a larger scale. She's also been admitted to the Mansfield College Visiting Student Programme at Oxford University. Below, Zhao discusses the values her parents instilled in her, the class that helped her find connections between economics and environmentalism, the reason she chose Dickinson and more.
Clubs and organizations:
Mansfield College Visiting Student Programme, John Montgomery Scholarship, Alpha Lambda Delta, the Shuman Prize and the Delaplaine McDaniel Prize.
On choosing a major:
Economics helps me to better understand the world and see what can be improved and how. In order for social justice issues to be resolved, I need to target these issues at their roots. Studying economics will enable me to make my ambition a reality. By promoting economic policies that are more efficient and equitable, my actions will have much greater influences.
As a kid, I wanted to be…
… a farmer, spending time with animals, watching the sunrise and the sunset and just enjoying life away from the hustle and bustle.
On choosing Dickinson:
During my college tour, Dickinson was the only college that arranged a special Chinese tour guide to accompany my grandfather, who does not speak English at all. This simple action meant a lot to me. It showed me how detail-oriented Dickinson is, in caring for its students. And I continue to feel that way, now that I am on campus.
I know how to play the gourd flute. [Contrary to popular opinion,] this instrument is not used to train snakes to dance.
Favorite class so far:
The Earth’s Changing Climate (ERSC 142), taught by [Joseph Priestley Professor of Natural History] Marcus Key. It's the most interdisciplinary course I've taken so far. We incorporated many other natural sciences into this course, and we even touched on how to identify climate records in English literature and artwork. This course also connected to my primary major. Through my class project, I gained a better understanding of the complex role economics plays in the climate-change debate.
In a perfect world…
… there are big smiles on everyone’s faces, because no one is left behind. Everyone is treated equally.
Most important thing I've learned so far:
The more knowledge I acquire, the more I realize how much there is out there that I still don’t know. I have learned to become open to every possibility, to listen more and to never stop exploring.
Coming to the U.S. alone for school, one week before I turned 14, and being accepted into the study-abroad program at the University of Oxford. When I came to the U.S., I overcame many difficulties, including becoming fluent in a new language, adapting to a new culture, and living more independently. I am proud of how much my comfort zone has been expanded and how I've been able to take on challenges. From Beijing to Georgia and Pennsylvania to Oxford, my adventure continues.
My parents. They pour their love on me, offer me a safe space, help me discover more about my potential and inspire me to do my best at all times. I always strive for excellence. One of the biggest lessons I learned from my parents is the right way to treat others—to be kind to the people I love and even the people I dislike.
Published March 30, 2017