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. Look for unusual places to study.
It’s practical advice from Arizona State University graduate student Andrea Yang, who seems to have it all figured out in college — and maybe life.
Yang, who is from Paradise Valley, Ariz., is a student at Barrett, The Honors College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English (Literature) and a minor in Asian Languages (Chinese) this spring. She said choosing a major in the humanities opened doors to many possibilities.
“The versatility of this major has allowed me to apply what I’ve learned to almost every other aspect of my life, while allowing me to explore and study my interests outside of literature, such as language acquisition and business,” she said.
Yang immersed herself in business in her honors thesis, in which she worked with a group of students to design a sustainable fashion business based on the “ethical circular economy”.
She also found time to participate in other campus activities; she was in charge of ASU’s Performing Arts Cultural Association, which teaches and performs traditional Chinese dance, and she published a “little story” in State Press, ASU’s student newspaper.
Yang completed an internship in short film criticism and social media management for the COPA Shorts Film Festival in fall 2020, for which she won 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 storytelling, ‘who tells the story matters’.”
Partly based on this internship experience, Yang realized her love for filmmaking, especially storytelling. Yang’s dream is to work in the field after graduation, helping to “promote stories that provide an accurate representation of the communities they represent.”
We asked Yang a few more questions about her time at ASU and how she will translate this hands-on experience into success in her future endeavours.
Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study in your field?
To respond: I think my “aha” moment was in my senior year of high school. I took some AP literature and our teacher made us read “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. What struck me was how engaged everyone was with the material. Even students who normally disliked reading were enthusiastic about discussing the story and analyzing it together. This course made 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 did you learn at ASU — in class or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
A: Take the chance to 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 so many mistakes – that have allowed me to learn more about myself and the people around me. As cliché as it sounds, just trying new things changed my perspective and gave me confidence because it made me see that most people don’t really know what they’re doing. This process of reflection allowed me to relax a little more and to have new experiences that I could have enjoyed otherwise. I am now more willing to be more ambitious and pursue 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 besides ASU, which was more expensive and had fewer options to study subjects outside of my major. I love studying different subjects and subverting expectations – I hate being put in a box – so I decided to go with ASU. I also have multiple food allergies, so my parents felt better having me around as I was living alone for the first time.
Q: Which teacher taught you the most important lesson at ASU?
A: In my screenwriting class this semester, (Speaker Christopher) Bradley gave us a little advice that got me through the end of the year. He told us to imagine our dreams or what our dream lives would be like or our dream goals. If you keep imagining it, you will keep working towards that dream and eventually you will get there. Your dream will exist as a safe space to retreat to when life gets tough. This advice helped motivate me when I hate everything and want to give up. While I can’t say this definitely works, I think it’s great advice.
Q: What is the best advice you would give to those still in school?
A: Take advantage of all student discounts. You have access to so many resources as a student that it’s a shame not to take advantage of them. I’m almost tempted to go to grad school just for the student discounts.
Q: Where was your favorite place for the power study?
A: Because of COVID, I mostly studied in my bedroom. However, I would say my most frequented places were Ross-Blakley Hall, Hayden Library and the new Durham Hall building. A recent discovery that has been my new favorite is the Music Library. It has limited hours, but usually it’s not crowded. Plus, you can listen to a record player while studying.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: From now on, I am looking for and applying for full-time positions. I don’t have any official plans in place, but my goal is to move to New York. In the long term, I would like to work in the cinema, but in the short term, I’m just looking for a job.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve a problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: As nice as it is 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 pretty quickly, so I could focus on something like sustainability in the fashion industry and provide ethical solutions and infrastructure that other people and businesses could lean.