Chunxiang is the youngest of three children and the only one to go to college. She grew up in a small village in Henan province and has managed to fully support herself financially through college by holding part-time jobs, such as tutoring and being an administrative assistant. She has just started her PhD program in chemistry and chose theoretical chemistry as her focus. She recalls: “I wanted to study five years to get my PhD, but I was very hesitant. My mentor Xiaomin said to me that you're young, five years for the rest of your life is nothing. It was a very simple sentence, but touched my heart deeply.” A new challenge is to conduct experiments every day with computers, which is an area she had not learned in undergrad.
Her most memorable experience this past year was the Educational Practice internship at a middle school in Beijing's Tongzhou District. “I was a teacher in charge of one class and a chemistry teacher of three classes. I have gained deep understanding about how to be a teacher.” She continues to volunteer as a teacher in migrant schools in suburban of Beijing. She is on the university’s volleyball team and an active member of Yanxing, helping to organize large-scale events. This past year, she spent her scholarship money on new year’s gifts for her parents, daily expenses, travel and some clothes.
“I still remember how excited I was when I had the first online interview with Yin Yin. Because of the time difference between San Francisco and Beijing, we had webcam at my noon time while it was the prior day evening time in San Francisco. That was my first time to talk with someone who was in a foreign country at the moment. Later when I first went to a gathering with Yin Yin, Xiaomin and other Qian Zheng Scholars, I was deeply in awe of the experience of Yin and Xiaomin. Yin loves sport and is a Taekwondo black belt, while being a busy manager director of a startup. Xiaomin amazingly did 7 international internships while she was doing undergraduate and PhD study at MIT. These sponsors themselves are such inspiration!”