You might not know the following figures–but you should [Ed note: well, you all know this one.] In Campus Characters, The Blue and White introduces you to a handful of Columbians who are up to interesting and extraordinary things and whose stories beg to be shared. If you’d like to suggest a Campus Character, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After almost a full year as CCSC president, Sue Yang, CC ’10, is resigned to one thing. “I’m the ‘Two Minute Toot’ girl,” she says, referring to her brief, weekly emails to her Columbia College constituency. Yang, who laughs and smiles as often as the multiple exclamation points on her e-mails would indicate, shrugs. “I guess it’s not such a bad thing to be remembered for.”
Yang, though, does much more than toot. The archetypal Columbia overachiever, she established an international exchange program with Chinese, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern universities during her tenure on the Ivy Council and served as co-president of the Economics Society. She currently teaches an entrepreneurial class to middle schoolers and is an intramural volleyball champion.
Still, she maintains a pragmatic view of her many commitments. “These are student organizations, let’s not take it too seriously and get all dramatic,” she says, gesticulating with her fork. “At the end of the day it shouldn’t consume your life, it should be complementary to what you want to do.”
And Yang knows what she wants to do. After graduation she’s heading to Dubai as a strategy consultant for McKinsey. “It’s kind of like the career version of liberal arts,” she explains. Following that two-year commitment, Yang has a place waiting for her at Harvard Business School.
Basically, Yang would be insufferable, if it weren’t for her humility. “Sue is the most humble person I’ve ever met,” says Melissa Im, CC ’11, who has known Yang since the two served together on the board of the Key Club International during high school. “Honestly, that girl does so much, but she doesn’t tell anyone about it.”
Im isn’t just defending her friend. Yang didn’t mention Harvard–Im did. Yang also downplayed her volleyball success, the scope of her responsibilities on the Ivy Council, and, while this denial may not be so humble as the others, her dependence on coffee.
“I just drink one cup in the morning,” Yang insists, as she sips from an innocent bottle of water. Im laughs. “Sue is obsessed with coffee. She hiked up a mountain in Panama just to take a picture with coffee beans. I have the picture–do you want to see it?”
Im, who has also lived with Yang for the past two years, occasionally leads the “put Sue to bed” campaign, as she calls it, in which the members of EC 1216 try to get Yang to sleep. “Sometimes she gets mad at us, but if she does pass out on her bed, we’ll tuck her in and turn off her phone,” Im says. “I do like a siesta,” Yang admits.
Yang’s other tastes have changed over the years. Almost four years ago, Bwog RoomHopped Yang’s John Jay single, and uncovered a treasure trove of purses–13, in total–and “a shrine to accessories.” Yang swears she’s left her shopaholic days behind. Im agrees. “When I first met Sue she was wearing white suspenders and a tie. She’s toned it down to a more professional place.”
Purses aside, Yang still makes time for fun. Born in Shanghai but raised in Detroit by Chrysler employee parents, she gushes, “I love driving. Fast driving. Racing.”
And now, on the cusp of leaving the Columbia community behind, Yang is moving full speed ahead. “It’s my goal to get to all seven continents. I only have South America and Antarctica to go. I want to go skydiving one day. My motto is Ready, Fire, Aim. It’s worked well so far.”