My name is Melody Eng, an 18 year old student currently attending Thomas Kelly high school as a senior. My school is located in the Brighton Park neighborhood where I commit many services there, but I am also very active in the Chinatown community. The top college that I am aiming for is University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and I am hoping to major in communication.
Inside and outside of school, I have joined many clubs and assumed various responsibilities. Some of which include band, Key Club (President) Model UN, peer mentoring, the Chinese New Year dance club, and Mikva Club. I have also started an ongoing ESL (English as a Second Language) project. In this project, I strive to empower the Asian Chinese speakers with my current project at Kelly. My project targets ESL students who are prevented from taking higher level curriculum, such as honors, AP, and IB courses. Our goal is to obtain the properly challenged classes appropriate for that student. I have interviewed many of the ESL students on their current classes and they have completed questionnaires about what classes they wish to attend through their four years at Kelly.
My Chinese family has always had a sense of nationalism, so they are always politically engaged. I am also very civically engaged. I am currently an activist from Chinatown and another organization I volunteer at, is called CBCAC (Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community). Some of the activities that we do are voter registrations, door knocking, rallying in Springfield, teaching younger volunteers how to get involved in their community, and much more. As a veteran volunteer, I would teach the newer volunteers the importance of voter registration, and how it affects Chinatown. Last year, CBCAC took a trip to the Asian American Action Day (AACC) event in Springfield advocating against the severe budget cuts on immigration institutions, and I gave a speech that highlighted why there should not be a budget cut for the immigration services in Chinatown.
A business leader that I admire is a man renown in the Chinatown community, Richard Frachey. I have met this man about a year ago for an event that I will be representing this year, the AACC Award. I first encountered Rich while volunteering for this event, and he had told me that volunteering was his life. I had always loved volunteering for any and all events that I could handle, and once I recognized that Rich also reciprocated this same feeling, I began to see my volunteer experiences were beneficial to me in many other different ways. He had taught me that volunteering not only benefitted the organization, but it also taught me how to communicate, network, and have fun during those events as well. He also notified me of many other volunteer experiences that I could register myself in, and on a few occasions, I would even see Rich working the same volunteer services as me.
An issue from the past year that significantly influenced me was the immigration budget cuts in May 2015. This did not affect me directly, but I recognized the full scale consequences of this disparity at CASL (Chinese American Service League), and this issue drove me to fight against these effects. Many programs, and even administrators, had been cut from this institution and through those cuts, students, as well as elders, are and will continue to be deprived of many services. In response, CBCAC (Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community) had created a video to alert the Chinatown community that many people were losing services that they had used regularly. Even though I was not in the video directly, I assisted in organizing many individuals in the recording of the video. Through this video, it demonstrated the sentiments of some of the individuals whom was affected.
The most important lesson I have learned in my life has been to never waste the opportunities given to me and to try new things. Taking chances and putting yourself out there to improve yourself is one of the most important adages in my life. During many of my after school activities including Key Club and Mikva, or even outside of school volunteering at formal events or even marathon volunteers, I was introduced to many new perspectives and this lead me to find my passion in the volunteering for many things. While discovering my passion, I also recognized that I loved to help others in many activities because I could talk and contribute to others. As I attended more events throughout the years, this allowed me to increase my networking and socializing skills to learn how to communicate with others, as well as how to give proper presentations. I believe that without proper communication skills, connecting to people would be difficult. I am a strong believer of the importance of communication, and with this skill, I have developed strong reading and writing skills.