Both dreams, practicality define path for ASU grad
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.
Try new things. Always ask for a student discount. Seek out unusual study spots.
Those are practical bits of advice from graduating Arizona State University student Andrea Yang, who seems to have the college thing — and maybe life — all figured out.
Yang, who is from Paradise Valley, Arizona, is a student in Barrett, The Honors College, from which she is graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Arts in English (literature) and a minor in Asian languages (Chinese). She said that choosing a humanities focus has opened doors to many possibilities.
“The versatility of this major has allowed me to apply what I have learned to almost every other aspect of my life, while also permitting me to explore and study my interests outside of literature, such as language acquisition and business,” she said.
Yang delved into business in her honors thesis, in which she worked with a group of students to design a sustainable fashion company based on the “ethical circular economy.”
She also found time to participate in other campus activities; she was an officer with ASU's Cultural Association of Performing Arts, which teaches and performs traditional Chinese dance, and she published a “tiny story” in the State Press, ASU’s student newspaper.
Yang completed an internship reviewing short films and managing social media for the COPA Shorts Film Festival during fall 2020, for which she earned a 2021 High Impact Internship Award. In their award recommendation, the judges wrote: “She used her internship work to discover that when it comes to telling stories ‘who tells the story matters.’”
Partly based on that internship experience, Yang realized her love for film — in particular, storytelling. Yang's dream is to work in the field after graduation, helping “promote stories that provide accurate representation for the communities they represent.”
We asked Yang a few more questions about her time at ASU and how she’ll translate that practical experience into success in her future endeavors.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study in your field?
Answer: I think my "aha" moment was in my senior year of high school. I took AP literature and our teacher had us read Khaled Hosseini's “The Kite Runner.” What struck me was how engaged everyone was with the material. Even the students who did not normally enjoy reading were excited to discuss the story and analyze it together. That class left a deep impression on me and convinced me to study literature. As much as I love writing, I love analyzing writing and the stories we tell about ourselves.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
A: Taking the chance to just try new things, even if you don't think you're qualified for it. Deciding to just try new things has led to so many new opportunities — and plenty of mistakes — that have allowed me to learn more about myself and the people around me. As cliché as it sounds, just trying new things has changed my perspective and given me confidence because it has allowed me to see that most people don't really know what they're doing. This thought process has allowed me to relax a bit more and embrace new experiences that I might otherwise have enjoyed. I am now more willing to be more ambitious and go after what I want instead of being afraid of it.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: To be honest, I was only accepted to one other school aside from ASU, which was more expensive and had fewer options for studying subjects outside of my major. I enjoy studying different subjects and subverting expectations — I hate being put into a box — so I decided to pick ASU. I also have multiple food allergies, so my parents felt better having me close by as I was living on my own for the first time.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: In my screenwriting class this semester, (Lecturer Christopher) Bradley gave us a bit of advice that has helped pull me through the end of the year. He told us to picture our dreams or what our dream lives or dream goals would look like. If you continue picturing it, you’ll keep working towards that dream and get there eventually. Your dream will exist as a safe space to retreat to when life gets difficult. This advice has helped motivate me when I hate everything and want to give up. Although I can’t say it definitively works, I think it’s a great piece of advice.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Take advantage of all the student discounts. You have access to so many resources as a student that it's a shame not to take advantage of them. I am almost tempted to go to grad school just for the student discounts.
Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?
A: Because of COVID, I mostly studied in my room. However, I would say my most frequented spots were Ross-Blakley Hall, Hayden Library and the new Durham Hall building. A recent find that has been my new favorite is the Music Library. It has limited hours, but typically there aren't many people there. Plus, you can listen to a record player while studying.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: As of now, I am looking for and applying to full-time positions. I don't have any official plans in place, but my goal is to move to New York City. In the long term, I'd like to work in film, but in the short term, I'm just looking for employment.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: As nice as it would be to achieve world peace, I think I would aim for a more realistic issue like gender inequality or climate change. However, I think $40 million would run out fairly quickly, so I might focus on something like sustainability in the fashion industry and providing ethical solutions and an infrastructure that other people and companies would be able to build onto.