Faces of Rhodes

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Brian Tchang ′14

Hometown: Memphis, TN
Major: Commerce & Business
Minor: Chinese Studies

Extracurricular activities: Burrow Armstrong Committee, Campus Values Steering Chairman; GlobeMed, finance director; Rhodes Jazz Band; Sigma Nu Fraternity; Bonner Scholar; senior intern at the Bonner Center for Faith & Service; Becker Professional Education Campus Ambassador; International Peer Assistant

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

Like every student during his or her senior year in high school, I focused on finding a place I could fall in love with. Most of my close friends applied to Ivy League institutions and the furthest places from home. However, for me, there was something about the wonderful city of Memphis that I was not ready to leave. I was told that Rhodes College is a place where I would not be another number, where community service is valued, and where everyone valued academics. I heard that Rhodes would be a place that could offer me opportunities that most schools could not. Also, in the summer leading up to my first year at Rhodes, I was offered a position as a Bonner Scholar, which has forever changed my life.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes?

As a freshman, I was very eager to join every club and be involved in every aspect of campus life. Like most students, I had no idea what I wanted to do or what I was truly passionate about. But I did know one thing for certain: I loved community service.

In my opinion, community service is the heart of Rhodes. I believe most of my personal growth and changes have been the result of first-hand experiences through service work. Locally, I have had the pleasure of volunteering at a variety of nonprofits, gaining a deeper understanding of educational inequality, hunger and homelessness, and socioeconomic injustice. Nationally, I have gained a wider perspective on issues such as genetically modified foods and their relation to our fast food nation, from service in Little Rock, AR; the effects of national disaster through rebuilding in New Orleans, LA; the rise of poverty and homelessness in Albany, NY; and the beauty of social entrepreneurship with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation in Asheville, NC. I have also had life changing experiences through service work in an international perspective. I had the wonderful opportunity of volunteering with the Amity Foundation in Nanjing, the first nationally recognized NGO in China, teaching a group of migrant workers’ children English. I also helped at an orphanage for mentally challenged children in Wonju, South Korea.

Experiential learning through service work has been a major factor in my development since entering Rhodes.

Tell us about your overseas studies and recent U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship.

This past summer I was given the opportunity to study in Wonju, South Korea, at Yonsei University. The Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes is a program of the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The CLS is the U.S. government’s initiative to increase the number of Americans studying and mastering critical languages. Students are expected to continue their studies beyond the program, and later are expected to integrate their languages studies into their professional career.

The CLS was an intensive language program where, every day, students had four hours of language classes and four hours of peer tutoring, plus four hours of internship/community involvement each week, as well as cultural excursions to museums, theaters, and local events. We also pledged not to speak English. I lived with a host family for the first week to get rapidly integrated into Korean culture.

The CLS was an incredible program that opened my eyes to the world in many ways. One of the most memorable experiences I had was meeting eight North Korean refugees and traveling with them to the DMZ. These refugees gained their freedom by escaping to China and working there to save money to move to South Korea. Hearing their stories was by far one of the most humbling experiences in my life. My studies overseas have been incredibly influential in my personal growth and transformation. My motivation for taking Korean was to learn more about my cultural heritage and to someday be capable of speaking the language with my parents fluently. Through the study of language, I′ve come to love the people, the culture, and who I am as Korean American.

How do you hope to combine your interests in accounting, Korean, and Chinese studies?

Once I complete my undergraduate degree, I intend on participating in the Rhodes program to earn a Masters in accounting. I plan to simultaneously sit in on the national CPA exam while completing my masters. In the future, I am interested in entering public accounting and hope to enrich my knowledge of business with my education with foreign languages. I hope to gain an international outlook on business.

 I have always been interested in how U.S. firms and foreign firms engage in international relations. I am tentatively planning to begin my accounting career in auditing. My goal is to help local firms engage and fortify healthy relations with international firms, specifically in China and South Korea. I believe with an understanding of an international firm’s culture and language, an accountant can display competence, confidence, and professionalism at a higher level. I intend to effectively integrate my language proficiency, international experience, and knowledge of accounting into my future career goals.

Compiled by Ali Swee

Tags: Commerce and Business, Modern Languages and Literature, Tennessee