Zhen Cheng

Zhen Cheng

Hometown: Now Brookfield, Ill. I was born in Shanghai and immigrated to the States when I was 10.
Major: Human development and psychological services, minor in psychology

Research interests: I was motivated by research that shows that Asian Americans underutilize almost all forms of clinical services. That made me want to examine the challenges that prevent Asian Americans from seeking professional help. Working with professors Joan Chiao and Galen Bodenhausen, I looked at ways to reduce the stigma of mental illness among Asian Americans. I also worked with the Asian Health Coalition of Illinois to see if there were differences among Asian American communities in terms of their mental health needs, and there are. Through my internship, I also realized that there’s a shortage of culturally and linguistically competent mental health service providers for Asian Americans in Chicago.

Top accomplishment: Trying my best to follow the Commandments to love God and love others, even through my research.

What’s next? I enrolled at the University of Oregon to work with Dr. Gordon Hall, the current president of the Asian American Psychological Association.
In 10 years I hope to become a professor and leading researcher at a university. When you’re a therapist, you help one person at a time, but with research and education you can reach a whole community.

Any regrets? My freshman year I was all over the place and overinvolved. My senior year I decided to take ballroom dancing classes and painting, and I tried to pick up the guitar. I was like, “Oh my gosh, it’s my last year. I haven’t done all these things I wish I had done earlier.”