Having lived my entire life in California, I have always dreamed about expanding my horizons and experiencing a different lifestyle. As a teenager, online games and their model economies would spark my curiosity. This curiosity was the beginning of my interest in the driving force behind money and investments. As a senior year in high school, I was lucky to have my first professional position in charge of advertising, sales and customer service for a small company. In addition to professional experience, I also learned good business values and financial responsibility from working closely with the owner. Thus, when I was accepted to UC Riverside, my decision to be a Business Administration major seemed logical. But after reading a few books on investing and contemplating everything that my mother taught me about being smart with money, concentrating in Finance made perfect sense.
But my world still felt enclosed. I had vague ideas of where a degree in business could take me, but nothing concrete. My life was too narrow and “Californian”. I wanted to see the world and how social interactions and motivations were different in a foreign culture. I needed to experience life away from home and meet new people from around the world to recognize what my career path would be. With these goals and dreams, I applied for the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) to study abroad in Hong Kong.
To say that I have discovered myself would be cliché and a terrible understatement. The Californian lifestyle is often stereotyped as laidback and carefree but I never realized the merit of this stereotype until I experienced life in Hong Kong. The hustle on the crowded streets of Hong Kong is nauseating compared to even the busiest areas of Los Angeles or San Francisco. As a product of the competitiveness of getting into college, the students of HKUST are insanely driven and literally, the best of Hong Kong and China. The fast paced lifestyle and difficult competition adds crushing pressure and I love it; the pressure drives me towards success.
The friends that I made in Hong Kong come from around the world and they broadened my perception on life, education and career. The bottom line of their outlook simply boils down to being passionate about who you are and knowing what you want. Cliché, but what impressed me about my friends was that they all had set career paths, relevant internships and understood how everything that they were doing would help them achieve their goals.
Upon broadening my views on the world in Hong Kong, I became motivated with a firey vigor to succeed in the finance world. I took my first finance class at HKUST which was both the worst and best course decision I made in Hong Kong: worst because HKUST is notorious for driving their finance majors insane and best because it solidified my decision in concentrating in finance. My passion and curiosity in the workings of money and investments motivated me to welcome the challenge of beating the curve against the the finance majors of HKUST. Deep conversations with different people such as my friend from UPenn about his internship with Morgan and Stanley, a local friend getting ready for an internship in Shanghai and even a stranger that I met at a rooftop steakhouse about her experiences in a law firm while investing on the side motivated me to walk my career path in finance.
I am grateful for the opportunity to apply for the Bank of America Business Leaders Scholarship and Walter A. Henry Memorial Scholarship. Financially independent from my parents since my second year at UC Riverside, the financial aid of the scholarship will be a great support in finishing my college career. Rather than money however, what will truly impact my goals from winning this scholarship is the achievement. This achievement means that I have taken another step and standing that much closer to achieving my goal of a prestigious career in finance.