Differing paths lead to lifelong passions
Embarking on a singular path has never been William Yang’s style.
One of Yang’s first formative memories includes his parents enrolling him in martial arts lessons. Because he hated every kick, punch, and spin, he came up with a proposal that convinced his parents to let him take piano lessons instead. More than twenty years later, he is still playing piano, and he added the flute to his repertoire along the way. Even at a young age, following his passion was a priority, and recently, that passion became project management.
Yang earned a Bachelor of Science in Biological and Biomedical Science and a Master of Science in Bioengineering from the University of California-Riverside, but he had trouble finding employment in his field because his work experience to that point had been as an Admissions Advisor for UC-Riverside Extension. Yang started looking into his options and found the Project Management Certificate through UC-Riverside. At first, he didn’t intend on pushing any further beyond a certificate, but his path began to change quickly.
“Early on, I started into Biological Sciences and Bioengineering. I wanted to purse something that would allow me to create and innovate in the medical field,” Yang said. “Project Management is a totally different world, and I kind of started to like it. It was more applicable to what I had been doing.”
Yang liked project management so much that when he finished his certificate, he pursued another opportunity through the Master’s Pathways program. This recent partnership between University of California schools and UW-Platteville Online enables students to smoothly transition from a Project Management Certificate into the Master of Science in Project Management program.
“At first, I was like, ‘Who earns a second master’s degree?’ As it turns out, many people do,” Yang said. “Project management is crucial across all levels of management and departments. It’s the driving force to generate ideas and turn them into strategic processes.”
For Yang, project management allows him to combine his passions for education, work, and music. Last April, he brought his skills to the stage through a TEDx event at UC-Riverside. His presentation focused on tone colors of music and how they can affect the chemistry of the body, which he demonstrated through performing flute instrumentals.
“Don’t try to do something that you’re not passionate about. If you follow your passion, you will be happy and unlimited. You will succeed.” Yang said. “Music has been my compass. I am lost without music.”
NSF STEM Scholar
In addition to being accepted to the Master of Science in Project Management program, Yang was accepted to the fall 2016 cohort of the NSF STEM Masters Scholars program, which is reserved for students who have a bachelor's degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) discipline. The scholarship program is funded through a $630,410 five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The program also provides each student with a peer mentor and a champion, who is working in their field.
“It’s an online program, but it doesn’t feel like an online program. I’ve learned so much from the instructors and the students in the class who are already working their field,” Yang said. “I am honored to be a part of the program.”
In April 2017, UC-Riverside hosted a TEDx event with the theme “Amplified.” Yang, a classically trained pianist and flutist, was asked to both play and present at the event. He presented on the tie between emotion and tone colors, which are the physical characteristics of sounds. “Through air bending and vibrato, tone colors tell a story. Emotions affect how you play,” Yang said.
Yang demonstrated how emotions could be elicited from tone by playing a flute rendition of “All of Me” by John Legend and other songs such as “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas and “For Good” from the Broadway musical Wicked.
Even though Yang was initially intimidated by the prospect of presenting at TEDx, he didn’t let fear stop him. “Being connected to your emotions helps you grow, and fear can be your strength,” Yang said.
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