EOP’s Zhang Wins Link Scholarship
By Greta Petry (October 8, 2004)
Siqi Zhang is a winner
of the UUP Link Scholarship.
UAlbany senior Siqi (pronounced See-kee) Zhang,
22, taught herself English by reading grammar
books while growing up in China. Then she practiced
pronouncing the words by watching American movies
over and over until she could repeat the dialogue
along with the movie stars. She also read British
novels in English in her home town of Harbin,
in the People’s Republic of China, near the
border with Russia.
English can be a tricky language, Zhang discovered
on her first day of American high school, when
she angered her English teacher by calling her
“Lady.” Having read Jane Austen’s Pride
and Prejudice, where there were many
“ladies,” Zhang thought the word connoted respect.
Zhang did not let this momentary embarrassment
stop her. One month later she took the New York
State Regents exam in English and passed it.
Now she knows Russian and Japanese in addition
to her native Chinese.
The same tenacity that Zhang showed in playing
those movies over and over led her to enroll
at the University at Albany, where she is a
student in the Educational Opportunities Program
(EOP), and where she is the newest campus winner
of the United University Professions (UUP) Link
The Link scholarship is given by UUP, the faculty
union, and honors the memory of Eugene Link,
a professor emeritus of history at SUNY Plattsburgh,
in recognition of his more than 50 years of
devotion to the pursuit of knowledge, service
to youth, and leadership in academic unionism.
Zhang, who has a 3.94 GPA, was one of four Link
scholars at SUNY campuses this year. The award
carries a $2,000 scholarship, she said.
“I have to put double the effort into my academic
studies,” said Zhang, who has a double major
in accounting and Japanese studies and a minor
in statistics. “When I read textbooks, I have
to read complicated sentences over and over
because the context is not that clear,” she
said. Noting that some professors will test
students on exactly what the textbook says,
Zhang says she has to pay close attention so
as not to miss the one sentence that may be
the key to the whole paragraph.
Zhang wants to take more math classes so that
she will be adequately prepared for graduate
school. She has been taking 19 to 21 credits
per semester since her freshman year, and finally
dropped a course this semester to make her work
load more manageable while she also studies
to take the GMATs later this month. This exam
is needed to apply to graduate programs at business
Why has she taken so many credits?
“Since English is not my first language, it
is my responsibility to put in double the effort
if I want to do well academically,” said Zhang.
Her younger brother attends Virginia Military
“Originally, it was my dream just to get into
a college,” Zhang said. “I couldn’t get into
any regular university with my high school record
and SAT scores. My guidance counselor told me
that my English was not good enough. She told
me to go to a community college. But UAlbany
gave me a chance through the EOP program.”
Zhang was not discouraged by the guidance counselor’s
words. If anything, this experience lit a fire
in her to try even harder to learn English and
gain entrance to a university.
“My first goal is to do well. If I did not
do well, my parents would be disappointed. That
is more important than having fun,” said Zhang.
Her dream now is to be accepted by Princeton
University’s master’s degree program in finance.
Zhang, who lives off campus to save money for
graduate school, and who has a scholarship through
the East Asian Studies program, also works as
a tutor in the EOP program.
Having Carson Carr, Jr., Ph.D., as her mentor
has encouraged Zhang to continue on to graduate
school. “When I was a freshman, I would meet
with Dr. Carr every Friday,” she said. “At first,
he didn’t want me to take 21 credits my very
first semester. But I audited the course anyway,
and when he saw how well I was doing, he gave
me permission to add it to my course load.”
Carr is associate vice president for Academic
Affairs and director of the EOP program. He
said, “The University at Albany has been a major
player in helping Siqi to complete her dream
of college graduation. Surrounded by a supportive
environment, Siqi used all institutional and
EOP academic resources to accomplish her goals.
She makes us proud. If not for the EOP program,
this student would not be here at the University
to be competitive.”