Alumni Highlight – May 2016

With lots of activity and accomplishments brewing among the alumni, we will be highlighting one member each month to share a little insight into the personal news from around our FSU AAA community.

As many of you know, May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) celebrating diverse Asian cultures and pride across the country. This month we are highlighting an alumna who has an enormous amount of pride in her heritage and THE Florida State University. Additionally, she was an integral part of the laying the foundation for the Chinese Language and Culture Association (CLCA).


Name: Chantel Ma (LinkedIn)
Graduated: 2010 – BS International Affairs & Chinese
Location: Coral Springs, FL
Occupation: Expert at Apple Retail

Interviewed by Rosalyn Chen

  1. What have you been up to lately?

    “I’ve recently gone back to school to pursue a degree in Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University. I plan to go into programming and maybe build applications in the future. Currently, I’m helping my partner’s sister and brother-in-law, both of whom work in thermo-prosthetics. I assist them with the software programming and coding for prosthetics.”

  2. Is this related to 3D printing, how we can now print objects based off the coding of the program?

    “Absolutely, 3D printing can create prosthetics, and not just for people. For instance, if a turtle is missing a flipper or snout, they can easily print one out for them. Usually you think of the engineers who design the prosthetic, but I’m kind of the “ghost” person behind it, helping with the programming aspect. Right now, we’re working on making prosthetics that can detect temperatures. That’s important because it alerts the person wearing the prosthetic whether they are near dangerous situations, or say if they’re holding something hot they shouldn’t drop. It’s been very enlightening to apply programming to real world scenarios.”

  3. Aside from work and school, what interests and hobbies do you have?

    “I love food! To the point I will drive far for it. A big part of traveling for me is the food, which is why I’m heading to Japan in May.”

  4. Have you seen the sushi documentary, ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’?

    “Yeah! Jiro actually retired, so his son is managing his restaurant. It’s super hard to get a reservation there though, so I made one instead with one of Jiro’s old apprentices, Mitsutani. Although it’s very exclusive there, too, I’m actually still in the process of reserving a seat. I had to email the concierge at my hotel to help with the reservation! I plan to stop in Tokyo, then take a boat to Osaka and other cities, too. I’m a bit nervous since I don’t speak the language, but fellow FSU alumni, Eric Cheung, has a sister who lives there who I’ll visit while I’m there.”

  5. You also spent a summer abroad while at FSU

    “I did. I spent the summer of 2008 in Hong Kong. The excursions were fun and it was a great way to improve my Chinese literacy skills. We had classes three days out of the week which gave us an opportunity to go exploring on other days.”

  6. Any highlights of the trip?

    “Getting to visit the inner villages in Kowloon with traditional architecture, which required a local guide because it’s not regularly featured as a tourist spot. Nobody else from FSU came on the trip, so I was able to connect with other students around the world.”

  7. Any other fun memories of your time at FSU?

    “So many come to mind… a lot revolving around planning for AASU events. Particularly memorable were those late-night pomping sessions for Homecoming at Vu Thai’s house where we’d forgo sleep two days in a row. I became close friends with Alexa Aquino that way, actually. I worked at Best Buy at the time and would leave really late, so we’d meet up after in Strozier at 1am to plan events.”

    – Yep, your brain doesn’t seem to function normally during late nights at Strozier.

    “Or one time, where Vu Thai and Alexa had to drive to Jacksonville to pick up a performer for AAMP’D, and drive them back around 4AM, so it was an all night drive. I made plans with her later in the evening to hang out, and headed to her house. When I got there, she didn’t answer the door. It was a little bit of a sketchy area, around midnight, and all the lights were off in her house, so I got worried. I tried knocking on her bedroom window and everything. I ended up waiting outside for two hours, until her roommate could come back, and we found out she was still sleeping after all that time!”

  8. So were you highly involved in AASU?

    “I was involved with the Pride Student Union, at first, where became the Resources Director. I joined AASU my junior year and helped form CLCA. Specifically, I wanted everyone taking Chinese language classes to also learn Chinese history because it’s not covered much in our textbooks. We threw an extremely successful educational event on the Nanjing Massacre during World War 2. Around 400 people were in attendance filling the whole auditorium. Afterwards, we opened a discussion to the audience and I was so surprised everyone wanted to contribute to the conversation. It was a collaborative effort between the Asian studies faculty, international students from China, and the Japanese Student Association. It was an amazing experience.”

    – That sounds incredible.

    “Yes, it’s one legacy I’m very proud to have left behind. In fact, that spurred many faculty and students, headed by Professor Aaron Lan, to urge the Board of Trustees at our school to make the Chinese Studies classes its own major.”

  9. What are your plans for the future? A travel bucket list, perhaps?

    “I want to visit mainland China, Peru, or Europe. I majored in International Affairs, so I love to travel to countries with a vast and rich history. Professionally, I’d like to become a computer programmer, or perhaps venture further into thermo-prosthetics or robotics.”

  10. Does that include artificial intelligence?

    “Yes, AI robots can now sense emotions, or control their own facial expressions. It’s kinda creepy, but cool.”


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