Esther Cheng – Freshman and Transfer Orientation Leader

UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA

My parents, being first generation Taiwanese immigrants, have inspired me to help incoming students who also have to adjust to a new environment. Being a student leader will challenge you to become more open to different perspectives.

Who are you?

I am currently a proud sophomore of Thurgood Marshall College at UCSD. Although I was born in the small town of Charlottesville, Virginia, I spent my childhood in Taipei for nine years. In the spring of 2001, I moved to Arcadia, California. Having lived in both Taiwan and America shaped my perspectives; I have been blessed with the diverse cultures of both nations and have successfully integrated myself in both cultures. In high school, I was a part of the 400-member Apache Marching Band and in my fourth year, I learned to be a leader as a senior and as the band’s treasurer. Band taught me respect and teamwork, building me up to where I am now. Through my roles as both a freshman and transfer orientation leader, I strive to make people feel comfortable in new environments as they not only get their education at Thurgood Marshall College, but become integrated in a multicultural, welcoming family!

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I am a freshman and transfer orientation leader of Thurgood Marshall College at the University of California, San Diego. Having just finished my wild ride of a freshman year, I decided to choose these positions because I wanted to guide new students to the Thurgood Marshall family. Initially, I was nervous about the position but I grew to realize that as long as you have a heart for what you do, you will excel! I have definitely been supported by my fellow orientation leaders, though. Being in the organization has exposed me to a charismatic and dynamic group, filled with people of all backgrounds. The unity we experience together is amazing, since we are all so different yet accepting of each other.

Marshall’s philosophy of the scholar and the citizen stands strong among the OL family, who all share the goal of creating a welcoming environment for newcomers.  Coming to UCSD may seem daunting at first, especially due to its size, but I want to show people that Marshall fosters a close-knit sense of community. When I was an incoming student, the orientation leaders radiated enthusiasm that clearly stemmed from their love for this college. I, too, hope to pass on the legacy of Marshall spirit!

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My parents, being first generation Taiwanese immigrants, have inspired me to help incoming students who also have to adjust to a new environment. Being a student leader will challenge you to become more open to different perspectives. Arcadia, my hometown, was a predominantly Asian community, and coming to UCSD and working with the diverse orientation leaders and new students was definitely an eye-opening experience. The orientation leaders also motivate each other as we band together to face the challenges of representing our college in the best possible manner, making special efforts to accommodate each individual in a warm environment.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

My vision for the orientation leaders is to generate a greater sense of college pride and unity. Indeed, UCSD has a sprawling campus that spans a 30-minute cross-campus walk and has been said to lack school spirit, I hope to inspire students to get involved themselves so they can garner a greater sense of pride of being a student at UCSD and in particular, Thurgood Marshall College. Our college’s philosophy of being a scholar and a citizen applies greatly in the real world because hey, if you’re going out into the real world, it’s inevitable that you will encounter people from all walks of life. Being a scholar with all the knowledge in the world cannot replace the sense of accomplishment that one achieves by giving back to the community. I also hope to instill a sense of cultural acceptance and wish for people to come together to serve the community, despite social, economic, and political differences.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am very proud of my Taiwanese heritage. I was born in the US, but having spent my childhood days frolicking in both the concrete jungles and stunning beauty of Taiwan’s natural scenery, I adore the passion that the people have for the country. From the openness and hospitality I have experienced to the massive efforts to preserve the environment (through recycling programs, etc.), the enthusiasm that stems from being connected to strong Taiwanese roots shines through!

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I was greatly impressed by the amount of students from all over the West Coast who attended the ITASA 2010 conference, which was held at UCSD this year. I’d say that the future of Taiwanese America is looking bright, especially since I got to meet so many talented, dedicated, and unique individuals who are all very passionate in what they do, even at our age. I’m so glad to see that young Taiwanese Americans are starting to make a difference, even at a relatively young age! Who says that youth can’t make a difference?

Taiwanese Americans of the US, unite!

Any additional information you would like to share?

Taiwan is a small nation, and although I too am not the biggest fish in the ocean (I “tower” over everyone at a height of 4’9), we both should not be underestimated! We are both small in terms of physical aspects, but our great spirit and love make up for it.

2 Responses to “Esther Cheng – Freshman and Transfer Orientation Leader”

  1. Susan Cheng

    Dear Esther,
    We are proud of you.
    Your knowledge, passion, love and enthusiasm in helping others demonstrate your Christian and Taiwanese spirit.
    We believe you will be a blessing to people around you.

    Keep up with the good work!

    Susan Cheng

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