Hajim Spotlights

Jing Tian Ngiaw

Class year: 2019
Major: Education and musical arts (Eastman School of Music)
Challenge: Advance Personal Knowledge
(Click here to see the poster about her GCS experience that she presented at the Undergraduate Research Expo.)

How did you hear about the Grand Challenges Program?

I heard about the Grand Challenges Program through Emma Derisi. I attended the United Nation’s University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS) as a UR delegate in summer 2018, and Emma was kind enough to reach out to us this fall explaining what the program is about.

Why did you decide to apply for the Grand Challenges program?

I decided to apply because of my passion for education and its impact on children. As a teacher who has worked in both inner city and private school settings, I have experienced the need for personalized instruction so my students can learn better. I want to make my own contributions to this challenge through practical experience, to offer new perspectives on existing teaching methods and perhaps even create my own approaches as well.

Which of the five “competencies” (research, interdisciplinary, entrepreneurship/innovation, global, service) did you most enjoy completing? Why?

Definitely the entrepreneurship/innovation one. I am currently in the process of writing my first book, My Musical Trip around China: Lunar New Year! This book is part of a multicultural picture book series that I plan to write and release in the next four to five years. My hope for this book series is that it will help not only music teachers who want to easily incorporate multicultural music education into the classroom, but also classroom teachers who are interested in project-based learning for their students.

Do you think you will want to continue work in the field of your “challenge” after graduation? How?

Yes! I am always looking for ways to challenge myself and expand my knowledge beyond the field of music education — whether it is writing the picture book, doing administration internships or doing research, I find a lot of value in learning. Continuing my work in the field of Advanced Personalized Learning will certainly challenge my knowledge in new ways.

How did being at the University of Rochester help you to complete this program?

Even though I spend most of my time at the Eastman Campus, I am so grateful for the opportunities and the effort that UR puts in to become more inclusive. My USLS experience, making new friends in different majors, being more involved in the UR campus through LEAP (Learning and Exploring at Play) and TOUR (Transition Opportunities at the University of Rochester)… all of these experiences have definitely helped me complete this program.

For you, what is the value of the Grand Challenges program?

The Grand Challenges program enables students to utilize their area of expertise for the betterment of society. Regardless of your major, you have a piece of knowledge that can be contributed to any challenge. I encourage anyone who is interested to apply.