Written by Annie Wang.

What is your story?

I grew up in Petaling Jaya, just outside of Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. At 18, I decided to move to the U.S. to start working and saving up for college. For two and a half years, I was working 9 shifts a week at restaurants and bars before going to community college and transferring to Berkeley Haas. I was sold on Berkeley as soon as I found the business program, but being financially independent hasn’t been easy. I didn’t know the extent of how hard it could be until I got into Cal. Even after six years on my own, there’s always the uncertainty of my financial standing lingering in the back of my mind. I have a lot of respect for students coming from different income backgrounds, especially those who are sending money home to support their families. With the exception of occasional bartending shifts, I’ve been privileged to be able to fully invest in the Berkeley experience through my decision to use my savings and take out a few student loans. It’s extremely tough to be a student who is trying to do school, work full-time, have a social life, and have leadership positions all at the same time.

My passion lies at the intersection of human rights and sustainability in business–my dad’s career centered around fighting corruption in Malaysia and my mom’s in improving education opportunities. As a biracial third-culture kid, I care deeply about global issues and decided to pursue a Global Poverty and Practice (GPP) minor. Going into my senior year, I want to help create better systems of opportunity for freshmen and transfers interested in business. Even with a 4.0 in my last semester of community college, I was told not to apply to Haas because it would be “too difficult” for me. While Haas is competitive, this simply isn’t true. The application process is holistic – it’s about everything that you do, and who you are as a whole person. As with any great learning experience, what’s on paper can only tell part of the story, so don’t let it define yours!

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