As an only child and a first-generation college student, Lianyue (Leia) Zhang decided to pursue higher education as a path toward better career opportunities and a more prosperous future. Originally from China, Zhang decided to first attend Glendale Community College directly upon completing high school because of the affordable tuition and the ability to focus on her studies as a full-time student.
“It had a huge impact on me, where at first I felt lost to being completely clear about what I needed to take and the path I need to pursue," she said. "It doesn’t just give you each specific course you have to take in order to finish a degree, but also the order of courses to take on which to build a foundation on. Most importantly, you can see how the intersection of each major or minor or even certificate that is provided by each college will give you the benefit to accelerate your progress.”
Upon completing her general education requirements, Zhang decided to pursue a double major at ASU, studying both economics in the W. P. Carey School of Business and mathematics (statistics) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences because of the university’s rankings and outstanding academics.
“With hundreds of degrees offered and innovative, dual-degree and double-major options, I was able to customize my education," she said. "I thought Arizona State University had the perfect blend of quality academics, research opportunities, diversity, an ideal climate and recognition. All of these qualities together can make a huge difference in a student’s career. ASU was the best for me in terms of academics and financial opportunities for building my future post-college life.”
In addition, Zhang has earned a certificate in political economy, and will be graduating in the spring 2022 semester. Here, Zhang shares more about her journey to ASU and the advice she has for future transfer students.
Question: Why (and when) did you choose your major?
Answer: Doing math is really not just the simple pleasure of "I do problems faster than others do." The pleasure of proficiency in the known field is far less than the pleasure of exploring the unknown. Of course, because exploration is an unknown world, there are risks, challenges, setbacks and failures. No one can guarantee that you will gain as much energy as you put in. Some people like adventure and some people prefer to live a regular and predictable life, which varies from person to person.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about your ASU experience so far?
A: What I have noticed while attending the ASU campus is how diverse this college is. I learned that this is the university that can take you to the place where you dreamed of being. Not only are there tons of resources to help you in a variety of ways, but you could also explore the many options, such as if you need counseling services, tutoring, clubs, or if you want to attend a job fair. I was surprised at how many different ways they had for students to get involved, and that really stood out for me. Instead of just being one student of thousands at the university, they really make it a point to go one-on-one and help you as a person.
Q: Are you involved in any clubs, organizations, research or internships?
A: Yes, I had been officially selected to be the 2021–2022 vice president of finance of Ascend at ASU. I was also the recipient of the Boggess Family Foundation Scholarship in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences in April 2021.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a new transfer student?
A: I would say go for it! Generally speaking, it is the joy of thinking. But any subject requires thinking, such as why do you like that major more than others? It may be because of the high intensity, or the high degree of freedom in mathematics that has enabled me to learn and analyze and derive pleasure from.
Q: What are your plans after you graduate with your bachelor's degree?
A: I will either stay here or go explore the big world, depending on where my career takes me. And probably in a year or so, I will apply back to ASU for my master’s degree.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
A: I normally spend time with my family and friends together. But in the sense of math, when the night comes, learning mathematics feels the same as appreciating a piece of art; solving difficult math problems is like building a rare wonder in the world. All that is needed is books, pens and paper, which can be done anytime, anywhere.