Julie Zong ’10

Julie ZongRelationships developed in college mold your expectations, shape how you learn, and motivate you to take risks. I remember excerpts of expertly-rehearsed monologues from my professors that were both witty and touching. Among my friends, there were long conversations held in Ridgewood and Massell, late-night runs for food, and photos of birthday cake collaborations. The most important part of my Brandeis career was the network of friends, professors, and advisers who were so helpful to me.

Developing relationships in college can be challenging at first. Fitting into a niche took patience and my entire first semester. I struggled with my University Writing Seminar class, so I turned to Professor Irr's American Literature class in my second semester. Thankfully, I became an English major. I also met with my academic adviser, Professor Plotz, who encouraged me to ask him any questions during my Brandeis career. The meeting had a positive outcome, because he later became my senior essay adviser and worked with me on my George Eliot essay.

Never a naturally talented writer, I rewrote second drafts for dozens of papers. Fortunately, my interest motivated me to persevere. It became gradually easier as time when on and I was motivated to take challenging classes. I also befriended a group of students studying biology, linguistics, and psychology so I established a well-rounded education outside of the English Department. In Fall 2008, I studied English and Economics at University College London (UCL). The students on my floor came from all over the United States and abroad. I still keep in touch with many of the roommates from my floor, including friends who hosted me in Japan and San Francisco.

When I graduated a semester early, I began working as a paralegal at an employment litigation firm on Wall Street. After working seven months, gaining some experience, and paying off student debt, I resigned for an extended Asia vacation: visiting family in Shanghai, and touring Xiamen and Japan. A Japanese native whom I met at UCL became my unofficial tour guide for four days in Osaka and Kyoto. She was even generous enough to book my hostels, a feat I would never have been able to accomplish on my own. This brings me back to the interpersonal connections that one fosters during college and beyond. Some of my closest friends came from unexpected places, and they have helped me create a positive and multifaceted outlook on life.

Returning in January 2011, close to a year after graduating, I began working as an intern at the employment litigation department at the Legal Aid Society, minutes from where I worked on Wall Street. I have been working with lawyers, translating complaints from English to Chinese for our clients, participating in forensic accounting, and gaining a perspective from the plaintiff's side after having worked at a defense firm. These experiences have helped to prepare me for a career in law. In Fall 2011, I will attend UC-Hastings School of Law in San Francisco.