Determined and On Course

Po Chee LeungAs a first-generation immigrant, Po Chee Leung has faced the challenges of acclimating to a new country, a different way of life, and a new language and customs. And with hard work and persistence, she has succeeded in settling in.

One of Po’s dreams was a college education, so she started taking a few classes at a local community college. But her dream was interrupted by a difficult divorce.

Once independent, Po focused on her job, and became a top salesperson. Still, her dream of college was strong, so she decided to take a chance, risk it all, and enroll at SMC as a full-time student.

She got involved with the STEM program and was well on her way when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Po interrupted her education again to help care for her mother. A year later, her determination stronger than ever, Po returned to SMC and picked up where she left off.

Po’s hard work and persistence led her to excel in her courses. She was also selected for a NASA/JPL Student Independent Research Internship (SIRI), which matched her with a JPL mentor for a semester-long internship at JPL, while taking a full load of courses at SMC.

In addition, Po has been awarded a Summer 2016 research internship at UCLA focusing on water purification. “I’m very excited about this internship,” said Po. “There are so many different ways to apply chemistry to make life better, including improving water quality and purity.”

Po will transfer to UC Irvine this fall and plans to major in chemical engineering.

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