TONG ZHANG

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Tong is the Executive Director of Oregon MESA, based at PSU. Tong is passionate about the work she does because it brings equity to the education space and encourages students to think for themselves. Before her work in nonprofit management, Tong was a research scientist in tumor immunotherapy. Her experience as a scientist has greatly shaped the work she does now; “As a scientist, I realized how hierarchical and exclusive the systems are for technical and scientific fields. There’s such a lack of representation and a lack of encouragement at most levels. That really fuels a lot of what I do now. I don’t feel like a lot of the experiences that my colleagues and I went through had to happen because we were women, young, or inexperienced. There are so many bright ideas that come from people of different backgrounds and society is missing out on them because the environment hasn’t fostered their growth.”

Outside of work, Tong enjoys traveling and going on day trips with her husband. She’s also a proponent of Asian dramas because she likes the completeness of stories. “I get frustrated with a lot of American TV shows that don’t have an end. All the Asian dramas have around fifteen episodes and that’s the whole show and there’s no more.” She has also begun to write a book about business strategy. This book would target early career professionals and offer management tips that she’s learned over the years and that she wishes were presented in a more relatable manner. She is passionate about helping young professionals in both her work and her free time!

Tong describes herself as an optimistic person, which is why she likes being part of ninety-nine girlfriends. “It’s really easy to get cynical and believe that it’s not going to get better. A lot of what I like to do is about helping make a better future for myself and others if I can. That depends, however, on believing that people, including myself, can change and the situations can change too.”.