The Carmi Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce its 2018 scholarship winner is Faye Yang of Carmi.
Yang is the 18-year-old daughter of Jeff and Maggie Yang. She is a recent graduate of Carmi-White County High School and has a younger brother, Troy.
Yang will attend the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana this fall, majoring in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences. She plans to attend medical school after that and one day hopes to specialize in either cardiothoracic surgery or obstetrics and gynecology.
Among Yang’s many accomplishments, she was a Student Council officer, Key Club secretary and editor for The Carmian yearbook. She was also a member of the second class of the White County CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program and was hired by her peers as the Chief Executive Officer.
“I believe it’s so much more than just a class I took my senior year,” said Yang of CEO. “It seems like every event that I’m at, I find myself using my CEO skills, whether it’s interview skills or interpersonal skills – being able to have a conversation with people my age and adults, as well. That’s something I would not have been able to do at the beginning of my senior year.
“It’s helped me grow so much. I love Carmi and CEO has really made me realize that. Even though I have parents who own a business [Yang’s parents own and operate the New China Buffet], it had never occurred to me how hard entrepreneurship is. It’s made me appreciate my parents more, the values that a small town has, and how supportive everyone is of each other. CEO is still a new program in White County and for everyone to be so supportive of a program that they had no idea whether or not it would be successful, it’s just unreal.”
CEO not only made an impression on Yang, but Yang also clearly made an impression on CEO, as she has also been privileged to serve as an intern for the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship in Effingham, the birthplace of the CEO program.
Yang’s resume is impressive enough on its own, but even more so considering she and her family moved here from China when she was in the third grade.
And she didn’t know any English at the time.
“I knew enough English to introduce myself in school and that was about it,” said Yang. “My parents knew enough to run their restaurant, but not a lot more.
“I always had the mindset – especially because I had gone to school when I was younger in China – that you have to work hard to be on top. I think I was just a really competitive person at that age. I knew I had to work extra hard compared to my peers because I was behind in terms of the language, but I had amazing tutors and the teachers at school were very helpful for me. And being around an environment where kids were very excited to interact with me, that also helped bring me out of my shell.”
Yang was quick to praise the teachers in the Unit Five school system for their role in her success.
“I especially remember the ones that I had when I was younger because those were the most important years of my life as I look back,” she said. “Those were the years that I developed basic English skills, plus all the other education that I received was built on top of that. But if I didn’t have those helpful teachers in third and fourth grade teaching me how to sound out words and read at that level, then I would not be where I am today.”
The humble teen is also the first member of her family to graduate from high school.
“I think it just makes me appreciate education more than most my age would,” said Yang. “Graduating high school may seem like something every 17- or 18-year-old is expected to do, but it is a huge honor in my family because it represents that there are more opportunities coming my way. Being the first college-bound person in my family, too… I’m just really proud of that and so are my parents.”
When asked if she could ever envision herself returning to Carmi one day to practice as a physician, Yang said, “I’ve been thinking about that a lot.
“I spent the summer before my senior year at Ferrell Hospital in Eldorado and that really exposed me to rural health care. It made me realize how under-served we are in this region. I’ve been in a lot of different hospitals, both big and small. I hope that in the future I can still keep that in the back of my mind. Carmi is very special to me. I’m really proud to call it home. I’ve lived here for a long time. If I can bring that gift that I have back here to serve the people in small-town America, then that would be really awesome.”