Heroes of CKI

Jennifer Ly







Computer Science

Burbank, CA



Would you say you identify with Chinese culture more, or Vietnamese culture more, or American culture more?

I don’t know, kinda hard to say, the way my parents brought me up is kinda like, I feel like the way they brought me up was kind of more Americanized than say, how my aunts and uncles might have brought up my cousins and stuff. I definitely don’t feel like I’m as in tune with my culture as the rest of my family is, but I have been putting in more effort to try to do so, but I still don’t have a clear distinction on what’s Chinese and what’s Vietnamese, ‘cause it’s always just kind of been like, mixed together as I’ve grown up. So yeah. But I guess I’d say, if anything, I’m probably more American, culturally.

Yeah! There’s nothing wrong with that. Okay so, let’s do Circle K questions. Why did you join Circle K?

Well, have I told this story many times! Okay so, I was in Key Club in high school, but I didn’t really do anything with Key Club, but I did know that I was like, “Hey, I really like volunteering and community service and whatnot.” I did over a hundred hours of community service in high school, I got a little medal for it. But it was mostly outside of Key Club stuff. But I was just like, “Huh, I don’t think I’ll find those kinds of opportunities as easily unless I find a community service organization to join,” and I was like, “Well, I know there’s a college version of Key Club!” And they happened to find me first when I was passing by the MU area, that day that I did decide to finally go and check out clubs, as a wee freshman. Yeah, and it was so funny because like, I don’t even remember who tabled to me, but they were so surprised by my reaction, they were kinda quiet and not super enthusiastic, they were just like, “Hey, do you like community service?” And then I was just like, “Heck yeah, I LOVE community service!” And they were like, “Wait, seriously?” And I’m just like, “Yeah, I was in Key Club, if that helps with anything.” I used that excuse that I was in Key Club, but I feel like it didn’t really affect too much of me joining Circle K, other than the knowledge of it being there. But like, I did try out Rotaract too, but I just liked the feel of Circle K a lot better.

So you said you’ve been in Circle K since your freshman year. Did you ever have a Circle K moment, or multiple maybe?

Like what do people mean by “Circle K moment”? It’s very interesting hearing people talk about theirs, and like, Spring Training Conference, during that one workshop, I don’t remember if you were there or not, but there was a workshop that I think Omar was giving.

Oh, was it the motivation one?

Yeah, and we were talking about our Circle K moments, and I was just like, “Whoa, interesting. I don’t understand what you mean by that, but that’s pretty cool.” So can you help me define what that means a little more, and I can tell you? [Laughs.]

I totally feel it. So basically, what a Circle K moment is… It could be either a moment where you fell in love with service, or a moment where you fell in love with the club, so just where you felt like you belonged, or where you felt like you could stay in the club, where you felt inspired to do more for it. Anything like that.

Okay, hmm. Aw man, I think I remember thinking about it, I was like, “I wonder if maybe this is my Circle K moment,” when they were talking about them at STC, and I just completely forgot it at this point. But, I probably have a couple, I think. I think for one thing, I could-- okay, I’m gonna skip over the Chow Night, ‘cause we all know already that I love Chow Night and it has definitely driven me a lot more to stay in this club and I’ve been so much more committed because of it. BUT skipping over that one, I don’t know, I guess I’d say, there was this one day that I was just like, “Hey, I just wanna get more involved.” And then I went to my first DCM in January of that year, and like, I didn’t know anyone really other than a few people from our club, but even them I didn’t really know that well, and it just, I don’t know, I had a lot of fun just being there with them. I don’t really remember exactly what we did, but it just kinda resonated with me, that I was like, “Wow, there’s so much more to this club than I thought there was.” Like you can go out to things outside of the town that you live in and do other things.And then also, one of the people from Davis, which I had only really recently started getting to know better, was at the event with me, and it was really funny; we were in the same car, and we fell asleep on each other’s shoulders basically ‘cause we were so tired because the event was kind of early. But I just remember he saw me kind of just standing there awkwardly, and he was just like, “Hey come on, let’s go make some friends and stuff,” and I was like, “Aww, okay, wow…” And then, I was still not too involved divisional-wise, but it was a step, I think.

Yeah, that’s so sweet! So what made you want to be Creative Director?

Um, let’s see. Well, since coming into college, I was like, “I wanna do computer science!” I heard about Technology Chair, which was the position we had before we changed it to Creative Director, and I applied for that my freshman year going into sophomore year and did not get it -- it’s okay -- but when I got the opportunity to once again apply for board, I was like, “Oh, there’s no Technology Chair… Oh wait, it’s Creative Director! Wow, well you know, I like artsy stuff too, so cool. I get to work with something that I’m interested in.” I am currently taking a web programming class, so it’s like wow, I understand things now. I like the way we do the website a lot better because it’s a lot easier to handle, but anyway. Yeah, I don’t know, I just wanted to get more experience within my own field, my major’s field, ‘cause I had not even switched into it until last year, towards the end, so. I was like, “Okay. This is a step, right? Website stuff, yeah, that’s kinda related to coding.” So that’s what happened. And if you wanna know why I decided to do it again, the same exact position, is because I was very ambitious coming into it the first time, but then I realized that there was a lot of things that I could not do in the time and with the amount of knowledge that I did have. Then towards the end of my term, I was just like, “Wait. I think I might have figured something out. How am I going to implement this though, my term’s gonna end in like two weeks!” And I was like, “...well, I guess I just gotta apply again!” Yeah, let’s just get everything I wanted to do, done this time round. So hopefully that gets done, even though it might not look like it right now, but we’re getting somewhere.

You’re gonna be working on making the website what you want it to be?

Yeah, I think so. I’ll try. I know there’s definitely some things I’m like, “Oh, I’m probably going to have to scrap that idea,” because especially after trying to do it for a year already, it’s like yeah, that doesn’t work out… Member profiles, as much as I love the idea, I just don’t think it’s gonna work out. I remember originally, it was like, okay, there can be a set guideline of requirements before you get one, but even then, it’s still going to be a lot of people probably. Or not enough people. I don’t know. Yeah, and I was like, I don’t want it to be super exclusive either, so. If anything, I’d want it only to be as exclusive to the point of, oh, only if you’re a paid member then you have one. But then we still have over a hundred dues-paid members every year, so...

What’s a goal you have for this upcoming term? It can be within your position or not.

Upcoming term? Well.. hehe, hashtag Team Plat!

Yeah, I was like, “Wait… I know what she’s going to say.” [Laughs.]

[laughs.] But I mean, as I’ve mentioned, I do wanna try to implement a lot more things that I’ve been wanting to do to the website. Um, I think like, definitely I’ve been browsing through a lot more other clubs’ pages, and I’m just like, “Wow, they have a lot more content than we do.” I feel like we’re definitely missing stuff, and there’s a lot of stuff that we could add, so hopefully I can get some inspiration from them and be like, “Oh yeah, we should add a page on this and that,” and whatnot. I’m really ambitious about the idea of documenting our club’s history on the website. Like I already have currently the past board members up to 2013, I think, on the website, but I wanna go more, like I do have a list of more of the other board members, other than fam heads, ‘cause that wasn’t something we really documented before unfortunately. But I was like, “Oh, if I can dig up the old club T-shirts and have those displayed on there,” that’d be really cool. And, “Oh, here are the awards we got in our club that year.” There’s a lot we could do with that, and I don’t know, there’s something so satisfying, to me at least, about just knowing the history of our club, like how far we’ve come from back then, ‘cause it was so small before, but we were also one of the first ones. So it’s just like… wow, amazing. And now we’re one of the biggest ones, member size-wise, I guess. At least in our division. Can’t beat Irvine, though. [laughs.] But yeah, that’s one of my goals. Maybe not as important, but just something that I’m kind of working towards.

That’s really cool, I think that’s such a cool idea! Okay, so switching gears a little bit. Why did you decide to choose Computer Science as your major?

Okay, so, I actually didn’t decide to do computer science until the summer before I came to Davis, so unfortunately I was already declared as another major, which was Bio Sci. I don’t know, my high school offered AP Comp Sci, but I never really thought about taking it, like I was just like, “Oh, no, I gotta take the other major science courses, like Physics and Chemistry and Biology and whatever.” And I was like, “Well, of those three, I liked bio the most… I guess.” So then I applied for Biology, and I realized, hey, there’s a lot more than just those three science subjects, ‘cause my parents definitely wanted me to do something hard science related. I personally was like, kinda wanted to do something artsy, but they were like, “No, you can do that on the side or something, you need to study something else that will actually get you a job.” But anyway, that’s another story! Then I applied as a Bio Sci major, and I got in as a Bio Sci major, which I’m like, okay, that’s great and all. But even before going to my orientation, I was like, “Ugh, I wanna switch to Computer Science.” ‘Cause my dad had gave me this tutorial book on this one programming language during that summer, and he was like, “Hey, work through this, do a chapter or so each day and see if you like it or not.” I finished the book by the end of the summer, and I was like, “Wow, I really like this, let’s do this instead of biology!” And now, I’m still not a Computer Science major, technically. I am a Computer Science and Engineering, but that has more requirements, and I need to get out of that, ASAP.

So you’re planning on switching to just Computer Science, basically?

Yes. But as it is, I just tell people I’m a Computer Science major, ‘cause that’s the ultimate end goal and I’m basically there already. Just, it’s not officially on the record, but yeah. [Laughs.]

Do you know what you would wanna do with it?

What I wanna do with it? Hmm… Well. I originally thought, “Hey, web programming would be fun.” But I’m taking my Web Programming class right now and I’m like, “Wow, this is terrible! Why would anyone ever want to do this!” [Laughs.] But I’m like, maybe if I put more effort into it and if I wasn’t as crunched on time to learn certain material, I’d maybe like it more, so maybe I’ll give it a second shot during summer. I also was thinking, maybe I’d want to do mobile apps and stuff, ‘cause that seems cool, and that’s definitely something that… It’s definitely there, it’s something to get into, very prominent in society right now, there’s an app for everything, kinda thing. And otherwise, I would like to do-- and this is still continuing with the, “Oh, I guess I still wanna do something artsy and creative,” you can kinda tell, web programming and mobile apps, they’re very visual and artsy-ish for the most part. Continuing on that streak, I wanna do game development as well, ‘cause... I don’t know, I didn’t play a super lot of games, so I wouldn’t consider myself a “gamer,” I guess, but like, I did play a good number of games to be interested enough to be like, “Hey, I would maybe like to try making a game,” you know? Yeah. My best friend back at home, she’s also getting into game development at her school, and I was like, “Yo, you should like, trade notes.”

Speaking of back home, was it strange coming up here for college?

Oh yeah, definitely, it was. Davis was definitely not my first choice in school. Okay, so me and my brother. Comparatively, I am more of the homebody, like “I am sheltered child, I don’t go anywhere without my parents’ permission,” kind of thing. Versus my brother, who’s just like, “Hey, I’m gonna go out,” and then he comes back at 2AM and it’s just like, where the frick were you? [Laughs.] But yeah, my first choice was UCLA, because hey, that’s the closest one to home, right? I’m kind of realizing I feel like I might not have liked it as much there, probably, though, ‘cause I do kind of like being far away from home now that I’ve had the chance to. It’s kinda cool being away from family, it kinda sucks sometimes ‘cause you get kinda homesick. I was definitely really homesick when I first moved here for freshman year, like the first few weeks I called my parents literally every single day ‘cause I was just so homesick. And then I eventually went down to once a week, and now it’s like, once every time I need something from them. [Laughs.] Whoops. But um, yeah, it was kind of difficult because then there’s also the fact that from my school, a lot of people also wanted to stay closer to home, so if they didn’t get into LA, they would go to Irvine, which was another school I had as a option, but. I decided on Davis because reasons. But yeah, it was definitely harder, I feel like, because since I did come in without really, out of my graduating class I think only three or four of us ended up going to Davis, and the other people I did not really even know. So I was just like, “Welp, I’m here by myself… Okay, I guess… This is kinda scary. I can’t just go home whenever I want, to go back to that comfort zone,” so, you know, it was definitely hard at first. But definitely was worth it for sure, for me, definitely helped me get out of my shell a lot more, not having that cushion, like “Oh, I still have my home friends nearby.” I was like, “Okay, I have to go make new friends, I have to talk to people, by myself.”

Okay, I think I’m going to ask one more question. What is something that’s really important to you?

Like, in what sense?

Anything, you can interpret it however you want to. It can be a person, or a value, or a goal, or a hobby.

Okay, um… Let’s see… I guess, still going back to that artsy side of me, I really value ingenuity and innovation. I think it’s really cool to like, be able to make something that other people can find value in as well. I don’t know, there’s something satisfying about like, your work is being appreciated and being used or something like that, and um, and it’s just like, “Hey, you can make things! You don’t have to fall into commercialism and buy everything, you can make some of the things that you want.” I don’t know, it’s a weird thing to me, there’s like, this goal that I have to like-- couple with this, is like, I want to try every sort of artsy medium at least once. So I wanna try to do glasswork, like glass blowing at some point, I want to try doing woodwork, I wanna do metal work--I don’t know what it’s called, smithing? You know, something like that. I don’t know, there’s a lot of cool things that are out there, it’s very open-ended too, so you can do whatever you want. It’s like, you can make it whatever you want, and it can mean whatever you want, and if someone doesn’t like it, well, that’s okay. You did something, you made this, so... I don’t remember what the original question was, I’m just rambling again. [Laughs.]

It’s okay! Go off as much as you want. It was just, you know, what’s important to you?

Okay, yes! This is very important to me. I really value being able to just be creative, I guess, ‘cause it’s like, I don’t know, I feel like, the way society is too, like you have to fit into a box and stuff, and it’s just like, no, screw that box! Deconstruct it and make it into something else! One of the best ways to do that, I think, is to create something. Yeah, I don’t know. I’m a very... artsy person. But ironically, I’m like… I don’t come up with ideas very easily, it takes me a really long time, I’m not like, exploding with ideas like most artists are. But you know, when one day a thing comes to me, I’m like, there you go. Just gotta stick with it.

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