By Julie Green Davis
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. To help with their mission, LLS coordinates spirited fundraising competitions across the U.S. in which participants build fundraising teams to compete for the title of Man of the Year, or Woman of the Year. The titles are awarded to the man or woman in each community who raises the most funds during a specific time period.
Recently LLS created a new fundraising initiative called, Student of the Year where rockstar high school students participate in a six-week fundraising competition to showcase their leadership, drive, and passion that goes beyond the call of duty of your every day high school student. This allows students from all over the U.S. the opportunity to make a difference in their community and be a part of the movement to find a cure for this horrible disease.
I recently got the opportunity to meet a student who is truly making a difference in her community and all around the world. Tiffany Chou is a junior at Radnor High School where she loves to take on challenging, but rewarding courses related to science. In her spare time, Tiffany volunteers at local hospitals and is involved in many clubs, including the Service Board Club, National Honors Society and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. She is on the high school swim team and in her free time she loves horseback riding, painting and spending time with her friends.
Tiffany believes in finding a cure for cancer and she’s doing this through her LLS Student of the Year campaign: Make A Difference. Here’s my interview with Tiffany.
JGD: How did you get involved with LLS?
I become involved with LLS through the Student of the Year campaign. I decided to participate with this campaign because it gives high school students an opportunity to raise much larger sums of money for a good cause. Not only does this campaign raise money for blood cancer research, but it also raises awareness for a cause that is very dear to many people’s hearts. In addition, this campaign allows high school students to challenge themselves in time management and campaigning/networking skills.
JGD: Your campaign is called, “Make A Difference.” How did that come about?
We are the Make A Difference campaign because this campaign is to commemorate those who have lost the battle to blood cancer, those who are fighting blood cancer, and those who are searching for a cure for blood cancer. When I asked my mom to help me brainstorm some ideas as a title for our campaign, the Make A Difference campaign stuck because it symbolizes and summarizes exactly what we want to do; we want to make a difference during this short campaigning period by spreading awareness about blood cancers and raising funds for blood cancer research. We believe that anyone can contribute and Make A Difference. The idea is to inspire people to spread the message and create a movement.
JGD: What is your overall goal for this campaign?
At the beginning of the campaign, our goal was to raise funds and awareness about blood cancer and blood cancer research. As the campaign’s end comes closer and closer, I have realized that we have been building a community of people who want to help find a cure for blood cancers. Another reason that I jumped at the opportunity to be a candidate for Student of the Year is for the experience. I wanted to gain campaigning experience, meet new people, learn new social skills and interact with people who I would not normally interact with. Overall, the goal is to make a difference and contribute to finding a cure for blood cancers.
JGD: I saw your campaign video and noticed that you speak different languages. How has that helped your campaign?
Let me start off by saying that I am a Chinese American; my family is from Taiwan. I learned to speak both Chinese and English at a very young age. Because of my ties to Taiwan, I thought that it would be a good idea to spread awareness outside of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by spreading the message to Taiwan. By creating a video in both English and Chinese, I was able to reach out and communicate with people in Taiwan. I asked my cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles to help spread the word about this campaign. Because of my families’ support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, there has been increased awareness about these deadly diseases and an increase in funds donated to my campaign. Without the help of family and friends, this campaign and its message would not have been nearly as successful.
JGD: What advice do you have to encourage young women to get involved and make a difference?
I think that we live in a day and age where young women are more than capable of taking the initiative to make a difference. If I were to write a letter to all young women, it would go something like this:
As young women, don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. We live in a world with many opportunities, so go out and seize them! Whether it be in the medical or technological or any other world, you can make a difference in whatever you choose. Set goals that are attainable yet challenging, find friends and family who will support and help you with your endeavors, and make the best out of every experience that you will encounter. Most importantly, believe in yourself! Believe that your efforts will make a big difference for the people you are trying to help.
JGD: Who or what inspires you?
There are many people in my life who are very inspiring. My mom inspires me the most because her actions inspire me everyday to do better than I have been or have been trying to do. My mom immigrated here from Taiwan to get a better education. More than most high school kids or even college kids, my mom loves to learn; her craving for learning even made her go back to graduate school! She is currently taking a graduate course on learning and creativity to earn her PhD. In addition, she is my role model and best friend because she pushes me to do better and is always there for me when I need help.
Tiffany knows how to light up a room and empower those around her. She is determined to change lives and make a difference while never asking for anything in return. Tiffany is currently preparing for her college applications and she would like to pursue veterinary medicine or human biology. She challenges herself everyday and will continue to volunteer and hope that her career path will allow her to make strides in finding cures for crippling diseases.
Thanks to Tiffany’s Make A Difference campaign, she’s raised over $16,000 for her Student of the Year campaign. All proceeds from her campaign will help fund blood cancer therapies and treatments.
For more information on Tiffany Chou, please visit her Student of the Year “Make A Difference” fundraising page at: http://events.lls.org/pages/epa/soy16/tchouq