Lillian Cheng – Northwestern Alumni Association Student Director

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

I really believe that the world is filled with incredible people. To improve ourselves and to become better leaders, all we need to do is look around and learn from one another.

Who are you?

I am the only child of parents originally from Taipei, who now reside in Troy, Michigan.  Currently, I am a senior at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

At Northwestern, I’m a Political Science and English major; while heavily involved academically, I have spent a significant component of my undergraduate career outside of the academic sphere, engaged in various on-campus extracurricular activities, primarily those pertaining to student advocacy and civic engagement.  Indeed, outside of my role with the Northwestern Alumni Association, I’ve worked extensively with the Northwestern Residential College Board and the Associated Student Government.  During my sophomore year, I also founded NU Decides, a civic engagement-oriented organization that registered over 1,300 students to vote in the 2008 Presidential election.

All of these experiences have ultimately led me to develop a strong interest in the intersection between U.S. national security policy and the legal system.  As an extension of this interest, I’d like to eventually attend law school and serve as a prosecutor for the federal government.

At the same time, however, my professional aspirations are not solely limited to the legal sphere; I am extremely honored and excited to have the opportunity to work for the Boston Consulting Group, an international management strategy consulting firm in Chicago, following my graduation from Northwestern.

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

As the Student Director of the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA), I sit on the university’s Alumni Board as the direct liaison between the Northwestern undergraduate student body and its representative alumni organization. As many would say, I serve as the eyes and ears on campus for the NAA Board, so as to help it meet the ever changing needs of the undergraduate population.

Outside of assisting in various university policy decisions, I have spent much of my Student Director term helping to refine the Alumni Association’s programmatic offerings to the student body. To do this, we have developed strong relationships both internally at Northwestern, reaching out to key student leaders to solicit feedback on NAA events and activities, while also connecting outwardly via research of peer institutions and their respective Alumni Association efforts. One of our efforts this year, a product of such research, centers on the celebration of Northwestern 160th birthday, for which we recreated several forgotten university traditions (with a modern twist) on campus.

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

I have found that the best way to find inspiration for yourself is simply to look to the acts of others.  Leadership can often be something that is contagious. Whenever I see the courageous efforts of our American troops in the Middle East, or the selfless acts of volunteers in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, or the tireless passion of student leaders on a college campus, I am always filled with an immense amount of pride and more importantly, a profound desire to give back – as they have – through my own actions.

I really believe that the world is filled with incredible people. To improve ourselves and to become better leaders, all we need to do is look around and learn from one another.

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

There is an incredible amount of talent within the Taiwanese American community, yet so much of it is still left to be revealed to the rest of the world. I hope the future of Taiwanese America is one of new leaders that step up and break through these barriers – together, with support from one another – in all walks of life in the U.S. such as, among others, entertainment, sports, business, academia, and especially in politics.

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