Hello! My name is Joanna Zhang and I am from Columbia, Missouri. I’m a senior in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and I am writing a creative thesis under Professor Yiyun Li.
My involvement in the arts at Princeton was something that happened rather on its own — without planning. I have been a lifelong lover of reading and although I’m a science major, I’ve made a point of taking a class in the English department almost every semester. One of my favorite classes was Contemporary Science Fiction with Professor Alfred Bendixen, and as an assignment for that class, I wrote a short story and found that I really enjoyed the process. After that, I decided that I wanted to try taking an introductory fiction workshop.
That introductory fiction workshop was the first time I had done creative writing in any kind of a structured setting, and that was during the fall of my junior year. Over the course of the year, I found that I looked forward to working on creative writing more than any other assignment. Creative writing became a place where I could explore complex narratives in my life, including those of family and the immigrant experience. It occurred to me that this was something that I wanted to explore to a fuller extent, and I applied to write a creative thesis even though I had only taken a couple of workshops. My experience with creative writing at Princeton taught me not to be held back by concerns about being under-qualified, and that trying something new can be extremely rewarding.
I would encourage you to explore the arts at Princeton if you are at all interested in them! I am happy to share more about my experience and give what advice that I can, so please feel free to reach out.
Outside of being a Peer Arts Advisor, I am an RCA in Rocky and a member of Princeton’s climbing team. I’m passionate about the natural world, both in an academic sense and on the level of exploring the outdoors. If you ever want to discuss navigating STEM and the arts or really anything that excites you, or want a buddy to run or climb with, I am someone you can ask!”