Tony Chang is a fairly tall young man | EDUBOSTON

Tony Chang is a fairly tall young man

Friday, Jul 13, 2018

Tony Chang is a fairly tall young man. He seems to relish his ability to survey his surroundings from above. He scans a room as if looking to fix something that no one knows is broken. He doesn’t waste his words or his time. Everything has a purpose. Confident in his natural and acquired strengths, Tony is not surprised by his success at St. Joseph’s High School in CT, and he’s very pleased with the next leg of his journey.

UC San Diego is Tony’s next stop. Though not his first choice of colleges, he’s “very happy”. His decision to commit there was decided after a visit to the campus during a vacation trip to La Jolla, CA. He fell in love with the campus, the culture, and mostly the famous San Diego weather.

He did have a challenge making his final decision. In the mix for choices were RPI, U of Toronto, and UC Santa Barbara. The final analysis was his love of bio-engineering, in particular, BCI: Brain/computer/interface. He claims to know no one in the field and he can’t nail down a catalyst for his fascination with brain science. He attributes his affection for STEM learning, specifically Math and Chemistry, for his attraction to applied brain science. Apparently, the competition at UCSD is fierce and he’ll have to “compete for a spot in bio-engineering”. A challenge for which Tony is more than ready.

His decision to come study in the US was about the easiest thing he’s ever done. Everything else has been work. He attributes his success mostly to hard work and early planning; keeping a calendar, taking good notes, seeking good advice and then acting on it. Working hard is a product of a lifetime of good habits and natural ability, and excellent support to reinforce the two. His college preparation and planning began in his sophomore year when he took his first and last TOEFL. His logic was to “finish this requirement early to save time. I expected my junior and senior years would be heavily occupied.”

Program Manager Kristin Lynch attested to the wisdom of his early TOEFL decision. “Tony is serious, and methodical, and always doing something or involved in something. He’s in the National Honor Society, the Math Honor Society; he’s a student ambassador for seniors, and he’s always providing mature leadership for the other international students. He wrote a beautiful and effective letter of advocacy to the administration about issues affecting international students.”

“In addition to all that, and his amazing academic achievement, he’s a member of the Interact Club that performs regular community volunteering. He just never stops.” And, Tony says that Kristin is helpful!? She’s grateful for the opportunity and high praise from such a fine young man.

Tony knows that St. Joseph’s quality staff, academics, and AP courses “definitely provided preparation for the (college application) process”. His school guidance/college counselor was most helpful to him being able to navigate the application process and make sense of the pieces. College application season “was maybe the busiest time of my life so far. The essay was very difficult since their way of measuring successfulness is vague.” And this, from a guy with a 109 TOEFL!

But Tony doesn’t want any young students to be discouraged from pursuing their dream of studying abroad. He’d much rather offer some sage advice to kids contemplating or preparing for this journey. Begin with recognizing the value of the opportunity;

“Plan early, expect to work hard, constantly ask for help from teachers, and practice English… a lot!”

When asked how he thinks he’s grown the most through his American experience, Tony says, “I tried my best to be independent, although I was not always successful”. I pressed: independent from what? “From my parents, of course!” he emphatically replied; then expanded, “Hmm, independence in small things like studying, traveling, daily chores.”

People who know Tony describe him as polite, respectful, and thoughtful; very conscientious. His host family loves him so much that they invited him back every year for 4 years. The feelings are mutual as Tony plans to keep in touch, perhaps forever. He warmly shares, “They’ve been a great family to me in the US.” With so many good qualities and abilities, Tony is sure to continue his path of achievement and success at UCSD. His careful attention to detail and genuine care and concern for his community will be a welcome addition to the sunny shores of Southern California.