Bilingual in English and Mandarin, Yang entered UC San Diego as a freshman but had earned so many academic credits by then, he was given junior class-level status! A gifted young man with great time-management skills, in high school Yang took on the position of Southern California director for Timely Rain, an international, student-run microfinance organization, and a role that earned him a gold-tier President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2015, which he accepted in front of an international audience.
“Over the course of two years, I visited Dagouyan Village in Ningxia, China to negotiate new microfinance loan terms with the farmers there, utilizing my now secondary language, Mandarin. While describing my experiences in Ningxia to the awards audience, I recalled memories of proud farmers who pointed at their newly purchased sheep and children whose voices wavered as they received funds for attending school in the city.”
Yang is an impressive and accomplished young man. Raised on two sides of the globe, his road to UC San Diego as a freshman in 2016 is a story of resilience. “For nearly ten years, my mother lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident to apply for my immigration visa. She would call every week and try to visit every year, but meeting her was a new experience every time. In her absence, my father worked overtime regularly in order to support me and my grandparents. I didn’t see him often. I was raised in the care of my loving grandparents.”
As his grandparents’ health became increasingly fragile, Yang took charge of his life. “My father and I immigrated to the U.S., where my parents faced labor exploitation due to their inability to speak English. My mother was a respected kindergarten teacher, my father was a government cartographer; however, in America, they worked menial tasks. My mother polished jewelry until her fingers turned black before she finally obtained a low-paying accountant position. My father worked in dangerous conditions that ended in a work accident. Waves of pain plague him even today, which severely restricts his ability to work. With these financial conditions, I continue to strive for independence. I chose to take loans rather than increasing my parents’ burden.”
He considers the Town & Gown Scholarship a blessing. “It connects me to numerous new opportunities that would otherwise be financially inaccessible. For example, I can afford to continue my work in the psychology Language Production Lab over the summer, and I can explore options of studying abroad to gather a wider perspective on the human mind.”
While still in high school, Yang took classes at East Los Angeles College, where he became intrigued with psychology. Today Yang sees a link between his psychology studies and a future in economic development – a position of social responsibility.
“Growing up in Shanghai and Los Angeles, I have enjoyed the privileges of an urban life. As I reach adulthood, I seek to utilize my advantages to serve others. Ultimately, I aspire to master applied psychology, instilling hope and encouraging constructive behavior for boosting the quality of living in underdeveloped regions throughout the world. After my four years at UC San Diego, I plan to pursue a doctoral degree and find a consulting career to influence public policies and private businesses in a way that improves the livelihood of others.”