|A few minutes with AmeriCorp volunteer Qiu Chen|
October 18, 2005
"A few minutes with" is a lighter look at a student who has been in the news.
Qiu Chen is an exceptionally determined volunteer. During a 10-month AmeriCorps program, Chen mentored underprivileged children in Philadelphia, polled an impoverished rural community in West Virginia and helped with hurricane disaster relief in Florida. She began her post-baccalaureate studies in cell and molecular biology at SFSU this fall after earning a degree from University of California, Davis in 2004. The 22 year-old, who hopes to become a pediatrician, plans to continue volunteer work through the SFSU Office of Community Service Learning.
Why did you choose to attend SFSU?
After college, I decided to do AmeriCorps and for a long time I wanted to do medicine. I wanted to go into pediatrics. ... I hadn't taken the MCAT yet, so coming here was a way for me to take science classes and give me some time to prepare for the MCAT and medical school. This is a good place to be, San Francisco, and I love it.
I'd have to say my mom. We were all born in China, and when we moved here, my dad was working in San Jose, trying to raise money. ... She also took up a job, and she also taught English to herself. She would go home and read the dictionary. Literally.
What was your first job?
I worked for a program in my middle school. Middle school students, primarily female, were taught facts about nutrition, bone health and exercise then we would teach other middle-school students. So it was a peer-teaching program, called BHIP: Bone Health Improvement Program. The program coordinator actually asked me to become her assistant, so I would help her train new middle-school students.
What are your passions?
My passion is actually to do volunteer work. I've been doing it for so long that sitting at home drives me crazy. I just signed up for a project here with one of the organizations in SF State. I think they're handing out backpacks to little kids. I love doing that.
What inspires you?
I get to meet so many different people from so many different environments. ... That motivates me.
What is your favorite off-campus hangout?
I love to go dancing. I also love the cultural things that are in San Francisco, like the Yerba Buena Gardens or some of the museums, art and cultural institutions.
What is the last movie you saw, and give a one-sentence review.
The last movie I saw was "Crash," and it was very intense. You have to prep yourself for something like that. It was alright. I'd like to hope that society isn't like that.
Name a guilty pleasure of yours.
I love Oreo ice cream. That's my comfort food.
What do you think is the most important issue that college students face today?
I think that trying to figure out what you really can spend the rest of your life doing, that's a lot of pressure to put on your shoulders. It's a big deal.
I love the Winston Churchill one. I think he says, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
What is the toughest thing about being you?
Patience. Definitely trying not to overload myself. When I was in Davis, I was trying to do everything. Trying to lead organizations, attend events, trying to volunteer, trying to do medicine. ... Sometimes you have to take a break and do one thing at a time.
What is guaranteed to bring a smile to your day?
Little things, like I walk down the street and maybe I'll see a little kid. I love kids, and I guess that's why I'm going into pediatrics. They make me smile all the time. They're so cute. I just can't help it; I get a little crazy when I see them.
-- Student Writer Lisa Rau with Denize Springer
1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1111