Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Kelly Chung


Kelly Chung

 To describe myself in a sentence I am “Taiwanese by blood, Japanese in behavior, international at mind, and linchpin by choice.” If I were a Starbucks drink I would be the Matcha Cream Frappuccino, in which the bitter green tea powder meets the sweet cream, like the blend of cultures within me. Though no culinary chef, I spend most of my time in the kitchen making scones, sushi, and dumplings from scratch.

Being an international student, or even better put, a third-culture kid, significantly morphed me into the optimistic ideologist I am today. Born and raised in Taiwan, the home of bubble tea, pineapple cakes, and night markets, I grew up attending a local public school. At the end of fourth grade, my parents and younger sister, Grace, relocated to Yokohama, Japan with my Dad’s job. It is at Yokohama International School where I spent the last 8 years learning English from scratch, playing field hockey, a peculiar, unorthodox sport (at least in Japan) but nonetheless what I consider my ‘spark’; performing the koto, a traditional Japanese 13-string wind instrument; and engaging in global affairs, from climate change to disparity in development, I love to dive in learning what is ‘wrong’ with our world and how conventional means fails to fix it.

It is also my multicultural background that fuels my love for to pursue an interdisciplinary education and extracurricular. Even though much as changed since high school, you can still find me after class on the Field Hockey turf and on the weekends designing water filtration tanks with DEID or social cooking events with TASA. I will continue to study Japanese, because what better explains the connection between history and international relations than languages? From speaking Taiwanese with my grandparents, Mandarin with my parents, English to my sister, and Japanese to my friends, it is the phrases that have no literal translation in other languages that best speaks for uniqueness within each culture. It is also looking at how culture came to be so through a historical and socioeconomic lens that fascinates me. I am also thrilled to be studying Chemistry. The complex and endless chemical pathways in organic chemistry are the epitome of the infinite opportunities for innovation. Whether I am destined to make a an everlasting impact on the world or a thousand little ones, and whether it is environmental toxicology, global health, or sustainable development that I choose to further explore and complement my studies, I aspire to remain a bold, big hearted, Baldwin, a big hearted Baldwin.