MINERVA VOICES

A Conversation with Minerva Student Emma Zhang

Meet Emma, a Class of 2027 student.

July 10, 2024

What drew you to apply and enroll at Minerva?

I chose Minerva because I love to learn, but the traditional school system didn't work for me. I found that I would much rather pursue my hobbies and interests, instead of following what everybody else was doing; in other words, I valued individuality over conformity, which is why I often felt out of place in traditional environments. In addition, I didn't want to be stuck on one campus for four years—I wanted to travel and learn in different places around the world. I found out about Minerva during my sophomore year of high school and after learning about its educational philosophy and pedagogy, I knew it was the best place for me to continue my education.

As a Minerva student, you have likely participated in various student programming and extracurricular activities. Could you tell us about some of your most memorable experiences and how they have enriched your education?

I love creative writing, and I was able to apply that passion to Napkins, Minerva's student-run art & literary magazine. I have submitted my creative work in the past, the highlight of which included blackout poetry reflecting on coming-of-age themes; apart from that, I am also a literary editor. I work together with a team of Minervans across all four classes—it's such a tight-knit team that ranges across different countries and time zones each semester, which creates a sense of community and unique cultural artistry. 

What does the Minerva community mean to you?

The Minerva community is like a hall of weirdly-angled mirrors. You see reflections of yourself in everybody—love for deep conversations, learning, independence, and nonconformity—but simultaneously, everybody is unique in their background, passions, and aspirations. I like to say, "You'll never meet the same person twice," which is so true given the diverse range of students at Minerva. Being such an unconventional university choice, nobody is here because "it's what everyone else is doing" or "it is what everyone expected of me". Everybody has something they're really interested in and passionate about, but everybody is also fundamentally a Minervan, which manages to bind us together.

What is a standout moment from your Minerva journey that you believe has been particularly transformative for you as a student and an individual?

People naturally emulate their environment, so when surrounded by spontaneous, risk-taking individuals, I began to do the same, which has resulted in a multitude of adventures, from taking impulsive road trips with classmates to jumping on public transport just to get out of the rain, and seeing where in SF it takes us. The most recent moment I can think of is beginning to drill with the CA Army National Guard, after receiving an invite the week prior during a SoCal conference. As a huge military history nerd and military fiction writer, this was an incredible experience that not only gave me research material but also forced me out of my comfort zone, physically and mentally. 

How have the active learning and seminar-style classes influenced your academic development and professional readiness?

Unlike my high school experience, which focused more on memorization and standardized testing, Minerva cares more that students know how to learn. Knowledge is always changing, especially in the era of technology, AI, and innovation—what might be important today might be obsolete tomorrow—which makes fundamental patterns of thinking and problem-solving all the more important, because they are adaptable. After going through Minerva's curriculum, I feel confident that, on top of hard skills, I have the ability to teach myself, which is handy in any career field; moreover, I am more confident in my critical thinking skills, and ability to articulate my ideas in a professional environment. Seminar-style classes are similar to think tanks, which are great simulations for professional debates, conferences, or meetings.

If you were inspired by Emma's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, learn more about Minerva University.

Quick Facts

Name
Emma Zhang
Country
United States
Class
2027
Major

Natural Sciences

Social Sciences

Cognitive Science and Economics & Political Science

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Economics and Society

Cells and Organisms & Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Applied Problem Solving & Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

What drew you to apply and enroll at Minerva?

I chose Minerva because I love to learn, but the traditional school system didn't work for me. I found that I would much rather pursue my hobbies and interests, instead of following what everybody else was doing; in other words, I valued individuality over conformity, which is why I often felt out of place in traditional environments. In addition, I didn't want to be stuck on one campus for four years—I wanted to travel and learn in different places around the world. I found out about Minerva during my sophomore year of high school and after learning about its educational philosophy and pedagogy, I knew it was the best place for me to continue my education.

As a Minerva student, you have likely participated in various student programming and extracurricular activities. Could you tell us about some of your most memorable experiences and how they have enriched your education?

I love creative writing, and I was able to apply that passion to Napkins, Minerva's student-run art & literary magazine. I have submitted my creative work in the past, the highlight of which included blackout poetry reflecting on coming-of-age themes; apart from that, I am also a literary editor. I work together with a team of Minervans across all four classes—it's such a tight-knit team that ranges across different countries and time zones each semester, which creates a sense of community and unique cultural artistry. 

What does the Minerva community mean to you?

The Minerva community is like a hall of weirdly-angled mirrors. You see reflections of yourself in everybody—love for deep conversations, learning, independence, and nonconformity—but simultaneously, everybody is unique in their background, passions, and aspirations. I like to say, "You'll never meet the same person twice," which is so true given the diverse range of students at Minerva. Being such an unconventional university choice, nobody is here because "it's what everyone else is doing" or "it is what everyone expected of me". Everybody has something they're really interested in and passionate about, but everybody is also fundamentally a Minervan, which manages to bind us together.

What is a standout moment from your Minerva journey that you believe has been particularly transformative for you as a student and an individual?

People naturally emulate their environment, so when surrounded by spontaneous, risk-taking individuals, I began to do the same, which has resulted in a multitude of adventures, from taking impulsive road trips with classmates to jumping on public transport just to get out of the rain, and seeing where in SF it takes us. The most recent moment I can think of is beginning to drill with the CA Army National Guard, after receiving an invite the week prior during a SoCal conference. As a huge military history nerd and military fiction writer, this was an incredible experience that not only gave me research material but also forced me out of my comfort zone, physically and mentally. 

How have the active learning and seminar-style classes influenced your academic development and professional readiness?

Unlike my high school experience, which focused more on memorization and standardized testing, Minerva cares more that students know how to learn. Knowledge is always changing, especially in the era of technology, AI, and innovation—what might be important today might be obsolete tomorrow—which makes fundamental patterns of thinking and problem-solving all the more important, because they are adaptable. After going through Minerva's curriculum, I feel confident that, on top of hard skills, I have the ability to teach myself, which is handy in any career field; moreover, I am more confident in my critical thinking skills, and ability to articulate my ideas in a professional environment. Seminar-style classes are similar to think tanks, which are great simulations for professional debates, conferences, or meetings.

If you were inspired by Emma's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, learn more about Minerva University.