Written by Tia Chen-Wong.

What are you passionate about and why? 

I’m passionate about empowering people, entrepreneurship, and meeting people from diverse backgrounds. I realized this when I studied abroad in Portugal the summer after my sophomore year and participated in a program called European Innovation Academy (EIA), which UC Berkeley partners with. Essentially, you create a startup over 4 weeks with 500 other international students around the world. That month was the most empowering in my life because it taught me a lot about grit, perseverance, and my capacity to deal with other people in various groups. It also taught me that anyone can be an entrepreneur, no matter what your background is. I ended up coming back the following summer as a student recruiter and recruiting 60 kids from Berkeley, and 8 out of the 10 top teams had students from UC Berkeley’s leadership week cohort. This position allowed me to go behind the scenes and talk to investors and lawyers who run the program. But most importantly, Portugal gave me the most supportive and diverse community of thinkers and innovators who I’m lucky enough to call my best friends.

Advice you would give yourself as a freshman ?

Think of more long-term goals and talk to more people who are into a certain industry or are just cool and into having conversations. As a freshmen I was really jaded toward networking because I thought it was all about trying to get something from people. But after going through the recruiting process for jobs and internships, I realized it’s all about learning each person’s unique and individual story. Now I love doing coffee chats and making those genuine connections! But I wish I had done that starting freshman year.

What’s your vision for 2020? 

My vision for myself is to give back more to the community and make time for building stronger relationships with people. I kind of put that on the back burner earlier this year, but I definitely want to change that. It’s good for the community but also yourself. Another thing I’m passionate about is education and marginalized communities, so I want to go to Japan in 2020 to do a Leadership and Empowerment program that teaches high school students how to practice independent thinking and be leaders in their country. Hopefully I can also hit up the Olympic games in Tokyo 2020!

What motivational music do you listen to before interviews / anything stressful? 

“Juice” by Lizzo for sure! Also “Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen”–that song makes me want to dance down the street.

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