What degree are you working towards?
A PhD in Higher Education Administration
Tell us your leadership story! Describe a little bit of your journey growing up that made you into a leader. What experience(s) defined you?
Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to explore all possibilities through meeting new friends and discussing my ideas with them. They always pushed me to learn something new, such as a musical instrument, a different language, or even just reading a book or magazine that wasn’t related to what I was studying.
With that curiosity, I studied International Journalism in Hong Kong, where I had incredible opportunities to meet new people with different stories. Writing and traveling has come to define who I am.
During high school, I stayed with a host family in California, and since then, have always wanted to come back to the U.S. to learn more about its culture, people, and diversity.
When I was in California, my host mom gifted me a book. Inside the book, she wrote, “Helen, listen to your heart, follow your dreams, never stop learning, and the answers are within.”
I am still not sure what that dream is, my dream, but I guess I’ve always enjoyed learning. Living in the U.S. and making new friends is a constant learning process. It’s through this, I realize that there are more commonalities than differences between us all than the media sometimes portrays.
Why did you choose NC State? How did NC State help you grow as a leader?
It was the entrepreneurial spirit of the College of Education at NC State that really drew me in originally. During the first day of recruitment weekend, the Dean of the College of Education asked each of us, “What changes would you want to make for Higher Education today?”
It was this support and encouragement that continued me on my journey to see the world differently. I was offered a fellowship for the first year and alongside with my adviser’s guidance, I was given the freedom to craft my own path of learning.
Thanks to both the flexibility and the rich resources at and around NC State, I was able to conduct an independent study on student loan servicing with a professor with a lot of experience in policy practice. I was also able to work with a professor in the Dance department to explore the connection between dance and meditation.
These various opportunities allowed me to see the interconnected world that we live in today, and how it’s often the small things we try that can help create the better place we envisioned from the start.
I stayed in North Carolina for three years prior to my PhD program, and I fell in love with all that the North Carolina area has to offer. It has the most friendly people, both mountains and beaches, different kinds of music and dancing, farmers’ markets, and a strong local identity that you can even feel from one coffee shop to the next!