EUA’s Humans of English: Tia Chen-Wong

Here’s the next installment in EUA’s Humans of English series; this reflection is by freshman Tia Chen-Wong.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I originally hail from a small suburb in Orange County, California called Rancho Santa Margarita, and now I am a freshman double majoring in English and Pre-Haas here at Berkeley. Literature and language have always been a passion of mine; as a child I read all the books I could get my hands on and was constantly writing plays, novels, and poetry. In high school I divided my time between the Literary Magazine Club, Chamber Orchestra, and Girl Scouts; this year, I served as co-president of Hall Association in my residential unit and started working as an office assistant at the RSF. For career aspirations, I hope to apply my writing and communication skills to the creative side of business, particularly marketing.

How has English literature impacted your life?

Literature has been a major lifeline and inspiration in my life. I cannot overstate the impact it has had on my academic and personal growth. Ever since childhood, I have read everything I could get my hands on, from fantasy to science fiction to murder mysteries to literary classics. I love that I can escape the limitations and mundanity of ordinary life through reading, and I enjoy exposing myself to different perspectives, philosophies, and world cultures that I have never come into contact with before. Most of all, literature has made me a better person: it has stimulated my imagination, taught me empathy, and shown me what it means to be human. It has also inspired me to become an advocate for child literacy, and two years ago I created and implemented my own summer reading program for my Girl Scout Gold Award at local day care centers. This incredibly rewarding experience demonstrated to me the importance of education and inspired me to champion the literary cause.

What has your experience with Berkeley’s English Department been like? (Professors, office hours, events, classmates, GSIs, etc.)

My experience with Berkeley’s English Department has been nothing short of fantastic. All of my professors have been stimulatingly engaging and wonderfully open and friendly. Likewise, my GSI’s have been incredibly intelligent but approachable as well, always willing to stay a few minutes after class or set up an extra appointment to answer my questions. In lecture and in section, I am always encouraged to participate in class with the knowledge that my input will be valued and not discredited. Moreover, my fellow classmates never fail to surprise and impress me with their thoughtful analyses, and this inspires me to do better in return.

Tell us about a favorite class or professor here in the English Department.

I absolutely love the class I am taking now, English 45C. Not only are we reading great novels like The Sound and the Fury, Dubliners, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, we are also learning a lot about Faulkner, Joyce, Wilde, and the time periods in which they lived in. And in the discussion sections I have in class and in the papers I write, I find that I am constantly improving my ability to articulate my thoughts and present a coherent, persuasive argument in a clear, precise manner. Professor Flynn is exceptionally perceptive, witty, and kind, and I can’t say enough good things about my brilliant GSI, Serena Le. A huge thank you to both of them for making my spring semester in the English department so enjoyable!

When it comes to undergraduate students in the English Department, The English Undergraduate Association is a community touchstone for one of the largest departments in the College of Letters and Science at UC Berkeley. Since 1993, the English Undergraduate Association has hosted activities, provided opportunities to network, and helped English majors connect with one another. The EUA’s Humans of English series highlights the myriad stories of English majors in the department.