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Brian Chow explores his own culture, finds community at UCSD

Brian Chow is a freshman at University of California, San Diego Chow. He plans to major in human biology and minor in Asian American Studies.

Q: Why did you decide to attend UC San Diego?

A: The pull for me was the number of biotechnology companies in the area, so there are a lot of opportunities for internships, and the quarter system and the separate colleges helped me make the decision.

Q: Do you have an idea of your plans after college?

A: I’m hoping to do orthopedic surgery because I like to help people. With surgery, I feel you can see almost immediate results, it’s gratifying. 

Q: What college are you in?

A: I’m in ERC — Eleanor Roosevelt College — I’m pretty sure every college here has a writing sequence, and ours is five quarters. The sections are mostly reading and history combined.

Q: Is history in your area of interest?

A: Kind of, I’m undeclared as a major right now. I declared a minor in Asian American studies.  But I want to apply to human biology as a major. I am definitely interested in history, but it is a lot of work on top of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Q: What’s been your favorite class so far?

A: It was probably my writing section, MMW — Making the Modern World — or chemistry. In MMW we are writing a bunch of argumentative essays and doing rhetorical analysis. Ms. Bauman really helped with the writing stuff. 

For chemistry, I took AP Chem but I didn’t get a five. It was still useful though. For a lot of stuff, it’s like, I’ve seen this before, which is more experience than I’d say other people in my class. So I at least have a background, which is nice and I’m still really interested in the content.

Q: How have COVID precautions affected daily life?

A: It hasn’t been that bad; I guess it was annoying to not be able to sit down in dining halls. But, I am in an apartment-style dorm, so it hasn’t really affected me. 

I was also surprised that we were so squished together in lecture halls during the fall quarter.

Q: What classes at Country Day helped you with the transition into college?

A: I’d say it would have to be a solid background from the math classes as I don’t have to take any math except for statistics. I would also again say thanks for all the writing support from Ms. Bauman.

Q: How has it been transitioning from the smaller environment of Country Day to a bigger school environment like UCSD?

A: I knew during the application process that a bigger school was what I wanted, kind of like a change of pace. For me at least, professors and teaching assistants have been accessible through their office hours.

Q: What experiences at Country Day were most helpful for the transition into college. 

A: I mean, Mr. Mangold was the most important teacher I had. From math, physics, the Bible, and philosophy. He’s definitely helped me understand, especially in the context of the Making the Modern World writing section, how to think critically. 

For that class, we had an analysis essay on a Christian priest who got executed by the Romans. Last quarter, we also had a midterm and an actual final on rhetorical analysis of passages from the Old Testament. 

Q: Going back to your declared minor in Asian American Studies, is this a long-term interest for you?

A: I know that what I want to do is gonna be very STEM-oriented, but I still like the humanities. I’m Taiwanese, and it’s interesting to learn more about my culture because I don’t know many Taiwanese people back home except Joanne Tsai (another member of the class of ’21 and student at UCSD). I also joined TASA, the Taiwanese Asian American Student Association. It’s been nice meeting other people like me.

Q: Have you joined any other outreach clubs or organizations?

A: Well I played in trivia night for the Star Wars club and I won, but I don’t know if that makes me an active member. 

I also did club swimming at the start of the year. I went to two practices, but then I got lazy. I really, really miss swimming but I’m also really bad at pushing myself to do it.

Q: Have you been working since school started?

A: I started working as a lifeguard for the on-campus pool. I did that back home and swam a lot so it’s nice to be back in the water. 

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2022?

A: You need to tour the school you want to go to. Take the real tour, don’t just walk around and think that’s the whole campus. I’m still lost all the time, and I think a tour would have helped with that. 

Also, use Rate My Professor. I had a really stupid history class that I really hated. I loved the content but the professors were just horrible. I used Rate my Professor for my other classes but not this one, and I suffered for that. 

Building a good relationship with your Teachers Assistants is really important, they’re the ones doing the grading so it’s important.

UC San Diego
Quality of classes
Student-teacher interactions
Social scene
School spirit

— By Adam Akins

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