The Mentor Spotlight series by Project YETI aims to showcase the amazing young Tibetans involved in our YETI Mentorship program and share some of their valuable advice publicly for young Tibetan students. We'll be posting a new Mentor Spotlight every day, so stay tuned!
Tsering Say is a third-year student at the University of Virginia on the Jefferson Scholarship pursuing a major in Political and Social Thought. Her research focuses on the history of Sino-Tibetan relations and potential future avenues for cooperation. Say graduated in 2015 from the United World College of the Atlantic in Llantwit Major, Wales on the Davis UWC Scholarship; she is from Annandale, Virginia.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Adventurous, honest, and optimizing.
What is a fun fact about you most people don't know?
I shaved my head at 16.
What is your favorite quote?
"The beauty/That is of many days./Steady and clear./It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment." - Jack Gilbert (https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-abnormal-is-not-courage). Beautiful articulation of steady plodding work that, while necessary, generally goes uncelebrated.
What motivates you to be successful/achieve?
I try to put myself in a position from which I can best help people, which usually entails aiming high in academics or stuff outside school. I owe it to my parents who worked so hard to get me and my brother to a stable starting point in the US. Peer pressure also helps.
If you could offer one piece of advice to Tibetan students in their college application process, what would it be?
Keep your grades up, find some important extracurriculars you enjoy and get executive positions in them, give yourself a brand and sell yourself. Colleges are sympathetic to the Tibetan cause - use it. Competition with Susie Doe, someone who has had the resources and institutional knowledge courtesy of a long line of rich college graduates, will be very difficult as a lot of us are the first in our families to attend college. Branding yourself as the industrious and adventurous Tibetan student whose family came from Tibet/China/India to give you a better life makes you stand out from the masses of other industrious and adventurous students with great grades.
If you could offer one piece of advice to Tibetan students entering the college experience, what would it be?
Keep a budget and use a spreadsheet. You can download pre-made spreadsheets for college life off the Internet. Don't compromise your sleep schedule for almost anything. Join things you truly have an interest in, or start something if you don't really like anything. [David Foster Wallace] did a grad speech that I found interesting: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm95eZ1PZL0