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Yueting Chen

College: Queensborough Community College
Awards: admissions to SUNY Stony Brook, 2014; admissions to SUNY Stony Brook, 2014

CLIP, ASAP and Top Transfer Award

If Yueting Chen had stayed in Fuzhou, China, beyond her first year of college, she would have remained an English major. But at Queensborough Community College she discovered biochemistry, which she is pursuing as a junior at SUNY Stony Brook.

Now she has the support of a highly competitive 2014 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. This privately funded award provides 85 of the nation’s top community college students with up to $30,000 a year for up to three years of baccalaureate study.

In 2009, Chen and her older sister received long-awaited permission to leave China to join their mother, who had moved to New York more than a decade before. Her younger sister followed in 2011. Since her studies in China had not emphasized conversation, Chen started with CUNY’s Language Immersion Program (CLIP).

The three sisters would all enroll in Queensborough’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). University-wide, ASAP has achieved national prominence for helping more than half of its participants earn associate degrees within three years, compared to 16 percent nationally. Chen graduated in January 2014. Elder sister Yueqing graduated in 2013 with a degree in business administration. Younger sister Yueli is a current student.

“I appreciate the professors and ASAP at Queensborough. They have supported me and made me become a better person,” she says.

Chen credits her switch to chemistry to Queensborough professor Paris Svoronos, who became her mentor “and made me promise to become a professor or medical doctor.” With his encouragement, she took honors courses in chemistry, biology and mathematics, maintained a 3.9 GPA and secured two internships that led to poster presentations at the American Chemical Society’s Northeast Regional Meeting at Yale University in October 2013.

One presentation discussed research done with another Queensborough student. They analyzed water samples for nitrogen pollutants that could have come from New York City wastewater treatment plants; they also measured chlorophyll levels in plants which, if too high, could compromise organisms higher up the food chain.

The other presentation involved research done in Summer 2013 with Stony Brook professor J. Peter Gergen. She examined the genetic mechanism involved in heart development in Drosophila, the common fruit fly. Although a fly’s heart is much simpler than a mammal’s, both develop by using similar genetically driven regulatory proteins.