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Choy Has Embraced a Leadership Role at BC

Brown Award winner came to the Heights for academics, but says service made her stay


By Melissa Beecher | Chronicle Staff

Published: Apr. 28, 2011

Leadership comes easy to Susan Choy ’11. Self-promotion, not so much.  

In fact, when the soft-spoken Malden native was named recipient of the 2011 Dr. Donald Brown Award for extraordinary contributions to the greater AHANA community at Boston College, she made a quiet phone call home to tell her family, but hardly told any friends at school.  

“I didn’t want to come across as boastful,” explained Choy. “So many people are doing so many great things here.”   

She is undoubtedly one of them.  

Asked about winning the Brown Award, Choy characteristically replied: “I felt humbled and fortunate to be recognized.”  

Choy is an operations management and marketing major who is pursuing an American Studies minor with an Asian American Studies concentration. She made a mark practically right after arriving at BC: As a freshman, she became involved in the AHANA Leadership Academy, the Emerging Leaders Program and the Campus School Volunteers Boston Marathon Team.   

She has since added to her list of activities, serving as chief-of-staff for the AHANA Leadership Council, AHANA Caucus co-director, and AHANA Caucus representative and vice president for the Southeast Asian Student Association. She also was a co-chair of the AHANA 30th Anniversary Celebration Committee.  

“I always strive to do my best and try to find what I can do to better myself,” said Choy. “I really want to experience it all and find myself getting antsy if I’m not doing anything. It was nice to find people with a similar mindset here at BC.”  

Choy said that while academic excellence brought her to BC, the commitment to service is what made her stay. She has participated in several immersion experiences, including the Mississippi Service Immersion Trip, the ALC Volunteer Corps and the Nicaragua Service and Immersion Trip, for which she was a co-leader.  

“I went on the Nicaragua trip twice and found a very different experience each time. After my first trip, I really needed to process the mixed feelings I had. Coming from the US, from such a place of privilege, and knowing the history of Nicaragua, it left me very conflicted.”    

In addition, many people in Nicaragua called attention to Choy’s race, something she had not expected.   

“People would ask where I was from, if I was Japanese. It made me uncomfortable to think that people were so focused on my race,” said Choy.  

Questions of race and inequality nagged at her even when she returned home and resumed her normal life.  

“The experience provided me with the motivation to look inside and learn why things were happening the way they are. I decided to become more informed of the current political structure there, sought out news, and returned with a different group of people who were so inquisitive and willing to learn of the current situation there. It made all the difference for me.”    

Choy has accepted a job in operations at UBS Investment Bank and hopes to earn an MBA in public health.