UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Rachel W. Chang of Haverford, Pa., will be honored as the student marshal for the Eberly College of Science during Penn State's spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 4. Chang's faculty escort for the commencement exercises will be Aimin Liu, an associate professor of biology.
Chang, who is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, will graduate from Penn State with a 4.0 grade-point average and a bachelor's degree in biology with a concentration in genetics. She also is enrolled in the Penn State Schreyer Honors College and has received honors in biology. She is the recipient of several scholarships, including an Academic Excellence Scholarship from the Schreyer Honors College, a Hammond Memorial Science Scholarship from the Eberly College of Science, an Undergraduate Research Scholarship from the Eberly College of Science and two Student Leader Scholarships from Penn State's Division of Student Affairs.
In addition, she has received several awards and honors throughout her time at Penn State, including a John W. Oswald Award from the Division of Student Affairs in 2013, an Evan Pugh Scholar Award in 2013, a Scholar Involvement Award from the Schreyer Honors College in 2012, an Evan Pugh Scholar Award in 2012, a President Sparks Award in 2011, a Scholar Advancement Team Outstanding Member Award from the Schreyer Honors College in 2010 and a President's Freshman Award in 2010. Chang also has been on the dean's list every semester and she represented the Eberly College of Science at the halftime ceremony recognizing outstanding academics at the 2012 Penn State versus Ohio State football game.
Chang conducted her honors thesis research in the laboratory of Aimin Liu where she investigated the genetics of skeletal development and the Hedgehog protein signaling pathway in the formation and development of embryos. She was a research intern at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals in Radnor, Pa., where she studied animal models of emphysema and investigated the potential applications of medical imaging in lung-function evaluation. As a Nemours Undergraduate Summer Research Scholar at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., she studied the genetics of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease -- a neurological disorder. She also explored her interest in pediatric cardiology as a member of Hershey Medical Center's Cardiac Care Mission trip to Ecuador. In addition, she published an essay, "A Medical Revolution: The College of Physicians of Philadelphia," for the Literary and Cultural Heritage Map of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an initiative associated with the Library of Congress.
Chang has been involved in the Penn State and State College community. As the lead scholar assistant at the Schreyer Honors College, she has enjoyed mentoring students and organizing many academic, cultural and social events, as well as giving campus tours as a member of Science Lion Pride, the Eberly College of Science ambassador group. She also served as an English as a second language tutor and as a teaching assistant for the Honors Leadership Jumpstart course at the Schreyer Honors College, co-founded the Sound Garden Music Festival at the Penn State Arboretum and co-chaired the Schreyer Honors College Day of Service. In addition to being a scientist, Chang is an accomplished violinist who enjoys cycling, yoga, aerobics and scrapbooking.
Chang's advice to other students is to seek out opportunities that foster their intellectual, professional and personal growth. "Penn State is such a large university with many diverse programs and activities, so it is easy to find a niche here," Chang said. "Whatever your academic and extracurricular interests may be, broad or specific, Penn State offers numerous ways to get involved in each of those things. It's up to you to take advantage of those opportunities and to shape your future with meaningful and exciting experiences." She added that it is important to express one's gratitude. "The support system at Penn State is phenomenal; we certainly do not get to where we are alone. There are teachers, mentors, administrators, staff members, friends and family who all support, encourage and guide us."
Chang, a graduate of Haverford High School, will be attending medical school in the fall. She will be accompanied at commencement by her parents Cindy S. Ng and Gordon Y. Chang, her brothers Corey Chang and Brandon Chang, and her grandparents Ping Ng and Yuk Ng.