Grace Chuang '18

Grace Chuang
  • Chemical Engineering

Why Cornell?
This past year I was giving an individual tour to a prospective student and during the tour, we walked through the project team space in Upson. The energy in the room was so high. There was music blasting, there were spare parts and objects everywhere and machines running, and people were running around, but everyone we bumped into was so excited to tell us about what they were working on. The tour was supposed to be just for the prospective student (and believe me, he left about ready to apply to Cornell right then and there), but it ended up also being for me, because I left falling in love with Cornell all over again. What I saw there sums up what I’ve experienced in my 4 years here - hands on work, energy, and lifelong friendships.

Leadership positions held at Cornell:
I was the Policy & Practices subteam lead for Cornell iGEM, a synthetic biology project team. I also also an Engineering Ambassador, a graduate of the Engineering Leadership Program, a Frank and Rosa Rhodes Scholar, and a Kessler Fellow, an entrepreneurial fellowship that funds engineers to work at a startup (I worked at a film agency!). Finally, I’m a Rawlings Research Scholar too – through that, I worked in the Paszek Lab for two years and then moved over to working in the Sabin Design Lab.

Major accomplishments as a leader:
I co-founded Untold, an interactive event at the Johnson Museum of Art sharing the stories of 18 people in the Ithaca community through photographs and audio. My team of 4 other engineers and I, through the Engineering Leadership Program, worked for 7 months to give a platform to the homeless, refugees, students, and the elderly. On November 18th, 2016, we put our exhibit up and over 300 people walked through our doors. I will never forget the energy in the room, the feeling of watching strangers listen together, and faces of our interviewees when we delivered the notes that attendees had written back to them.

I have a huge passion for telling other people’s stories, but on the other side, I am also proud of being a 2018 speaker for Soup & Hope, which is a biweekly series that highlights personal stories from the Cornell community. Six people are asked every spring semester to speak and this time around, I was given the opportunity to share my own story. You can listen to my talk here:

Advice for future student leaders:
Being a leader does not mean that you have to be the most extroverted or dominant person in the room. Everyone leads in different ways. Find out what makes you, you, and the strengths and gifts that you have been given. Then, figure out how to cultivate those strengths!

Post-graduation goals:
I will be joining the Creative Team at Ginkgo Bioworks in Boston! I am so excited to continue exploring the interdisciplinary side of myself and continuing to bridge engineering and art.

Favorite Olin Hall/ChemE memory:
Hanging out with my senior product design group every week. I am thankful for group mates who are friends outside of Olin Hall, too.

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