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It's a Zong way to the top

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UMD Grad receives full scholarship to Princeton

Graduate Commencement 7pm, Thursday, May 10, 2012, Romano Gymnasium, UMD
Undergraduate Commencement 12 noon, Saturday, May 12, 2012, Amsoil Arena, Duluth

Chuhan Zong
Chuhan Zong, 2012 UMD graduate

Graduating senior and Chemistry and Biochemistry double major Chuhan Zong will attend Princeton University next fall under a full scholarship earned through making use of opportunities both on and off campus at UMD.

Zong’s story began in 2008, when Chris Haidos, associate director of Admissions, visited her high school in Chongqing, China.  “He was in my school’s study lounge,” Zong said. “I started talking to him as a way to test my English ability, and he recommended that I apply to study abroad here at UMD.  

I’ve been a basketball fan for a long time, so the only thing I knew about Minnesota was that Kevin Garnet used to play here. At first I wasn’t sure about coming.” Zong talked to her parents that night about Haidos’ proposal, and they believed that she should give it a try. “It’s a great opportunity, you should take the chance,” Zong recalled them advising. She completed her application and soon discovered that she had been accepted to UMD with her tuition paid.  

While studying here, Zong wanted to participate in research. She participated in bioinorganic research during her sophomore year. Unfortunately, there is not a large pool from which international students can draw funding for undergraduate research. Rather than give up, she chose to look to opportunities outside of UMD, spending a summer as an intern at Mayo Clinic researching breast cancer.

Even in her recreation, Zong gives it her all. She has soaked in much of what there is to experience as a college student. Over the last four years, she has become president of the International and Badminton clubs and is an active member of the Duluth Women's Rugby club. She also plays guitar and piano. “I know about the stereotypical Asian student - good at math, shut in, etc. I want to prove that that stereotype doesn’t apply to everyone.” she said.

Zong plans to spend some time at home between graduating UMD in the spring and starting at Princeton in the fall. “One thing I really wanted to do was participate in some community service in my hometown,” she said. “Without the support of parents, friends, and society as a whole, I wouldn’t have come to UMD and had the opportunities I have. I want to help other people like I was helped, maybe volunteer to teach English in a grade school back home.” Princeton’s PhD program is a five-year stretch.

“After I’ve earned my PhD,” Zong said, “I would like to join research faculty at a university, and become a private research scientist.” Zong credits UMD's ease of access to undergraduate research for her success in securing a place at Princeton. "UMD has amazing undergraduate research," she said. "The student to faculty ration is great, and everyone is very helpful in work and getting a hold of the right person to answer questions or provide advice. It really makes anything you do happen more quickly and efficiently, which is great."

Written by Zach Lunderberg, April 2012

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