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Smith Scholarship Initiative Helps Luna Be a “Light in Darkness”

  • May 2, 2023
Smith College student Luna Wang

Whether you call it empathy, compassion or emotional intelligence, Luna Wang ’24J has it, and with a depth that often belies her years. “Assuming the best of others and their intentions keeps us in a healthy mindset that is forgiving and kind to both others and ourselves,” says this senior who grew up near Minneapolis speaking English and Chinese, firmly rooted in two cultures.

As a first-year, she jumped right into Smith’s extensive course offerings, taking advanced Chinese classes and exploring other disciplines widely. Her curiosity led her to psychology, where she finds a good match for her empathetic strengths.

Smith financial aid has allowed Wang to deepen her understanding of people, including herself, and strengthen her future. “I am capable of so much more than I think I am,” says Wang looking back on her Smith years.

“I can safely explore, learn and grow in an environment ideal for turning potential into reality.”

Here, Wang talks about her desire to help others and how Smith has informed those aspirations.

Why did you decide to come to Smith?
The more I learned about what it was like to be a student here—especially a student of color—the more I was drawn in by the community of liberal thinkers with values similar to mine.

What does being a Smithie mean to you?
Being a Smithie is to hold fast in troubled times, to be a light in darkness and a helping hand to all around me.

Smith College student Luna Wang

What’s your favorite thing about Smith?
The students! They’re friendly and there are so many different kinds of students here. My world grows bigger with each person I meet.

How has Smith financial aid changed your life?
Our society constructs barriers and obstacles for people that often leave its members only one choice. Poor students and students of color are often confronted with such difficulties. With financial aid, one of these barriers can be reduced.

Financial aid opens the door to an entire universe of opportunities, experiences and connections. I am able to take advantage of a multitude of resources available at Smith that I would not have at other colleges, and I form deeper, more meaningful connections with the faculty. I can safely explore, learn and grow in an environment ideal for turning potential into reality.

What are you studying?
I am double majoring in psychology and East Asian languages and cultures (EALC). I actively use psychology as a framework for understanding myself and the world around me. Additionally, I wanted a major that is a foundation for a job that allows me to help others—I can work as a therapist, social worker, counselor or in any number of jobs that serve others in need.

I have always been passionate about Chinese language and culture. The faculty who teach the Chinese track at Smith have lovingly created a community where I feel empowered in my identity and well-supported. This is where I first felt a sense of “home” and “family” at Smith.

I’m considering how to put both majors to use. After all, the benefit and strength of attending a liberal arts college is the intersectionality between disciplines, which parallels our world and the forces that interact within it.

Tell us about an experience that helped define you.
During the summer of 2021, I worked as a counselor at Ramapo for Children, a camp for neurodivergent people. I learned a lot about myself and others, as well as from others. By confronting my own biases, assumptions and beliefs, I realized how much neurodivergent and disabled people are stigmatized and kept separate from the society I knew.

Camp Ramapo made me question my understanding of the world that hinges on societal constructs that exclude the “other.” It’s important to be able to take an individual-focused perspective, rather than arbitrarily forcing assumptions upon groups of people.

What are your post-graduation plans?
I would love to participate in a program where I can study abroad or work in Taiwan, such as the Fulbright Scholar Program or the Blakemore Freeman Fellowship.

By Nicole Pellaton; this article originally appeared in the Spring 2023 Smith Alumnae Quarterly.

To make an endowed gift or to learn more about supporting financial aid at Smith, please contact Betsy Carpenter ’93, associate vice president for development, at 413-585-2052 or ewcarpen@smith.edu.

Watch videos and read about more scholarship aid recipients at the Here for Every Voice minisite.