Graduation profile 2011: Melody Young

Melody Young, 22, received bachelor's degrees in International Studies and Chinese from the University of Oregon in 2011. Young is an Oregon native from Tigard. "I think everything really just fell into place, and I know I found a ‘home’ through the UO," she says.

Extracurricular/leadership activities:
Hong Kong Student Association (co-president, 2010-11; president and director, 2008-09); National Society of Collegiate Scholars (president, 2010-11); Intercultural Mentoring Program Advancing Community Ties (IMPACT); Vietnamese Student Association; Golden Key International.

I chose to attend the University of Oregon because… as trite as it may sound, I feel God really directed me to the UO. I was accepted into the Robert D. Clark Honors College, which functioned like a small liberal arts college, but had the resources of a large university.

My most rewarding experience or proudest accomplishment at the UO was … a culmination of all four years, finding myself in context of the greater university. There were certainly numerous proud moments, be it the notification that I passed my thesis defense with honors or hearing from my co-president that the Hong Kong Student Association sold out all its tickets for culture night. These are memories that are ingrained in me, and I think will come to define how I invested my years at the UO – a dedication to both academics and diversity.

The greatest obstacle I encountered while earning my degree was ...undergoing the growing pains of the Chinese Flagship Program. I think the program really challenged my learning abilities, my flexibility and cultural understanding, but more than that, it shook the foundations of my sense of identity as a hyphenated American. Perhaps unconsciously, I found myself often held to different standards and expectations as a heritage student, though Mandarin was never a language I spoke at home. As a result, as I struggled to work through courses entirely taught in Mandarin Chinese, the triumph I felt is more than words can express. I came to understand not only the language and culture, but also who I am in context of being defined as “Chinese.”

My greatest inspiration at the UO came from… my peers at the UO, as they always pushed the envelope, challenging norms, limits and expectations in the society around them. Whether it was making a difference in the environment or at the legislative level, I think their drive to change their surroundings challenged me to do the same. Their courage encouraged me to take risks and venture into the unknown.

I plan to use my UO degree to… (work) toward a law degree at the University of Washington School of Law. The UO has really given me a global perspective and the sensitivity to social issues that will really ground me as I study law at UW. While it is important to educate myself on the legal system, I do not want to forget the human side of the issues we deal with each and every day, and I think that my International Studies degree will really help me retain that sympathy for the community around me.