Get to Know Tianzhen Nie - Distinguished Young Woman of Hawaii for 2015

TianzhenNieGTKpicName: Tianzhen Nie

Age: 18

Hometown : Honolulu, Hawaii

College: University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

Major: Environmental Studies

Minors: Chinese and possibly Entrepreneurship

What is your favorite TV show? Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra were the shows that defined my childhood and teens, and to this day they’ve helped me build many a friendship.

What is your favorite Olympic sport? Ice skating! When I was ten, I took lessons for about a year—which is weird, since I’m from Hawaii and am better at skater than surfing.

What is the current #1 most played song on your iPod? Anything by Kurt Hugo Schneider, a YouTube music producer and filmmaker with over 6 million subscribers.  

What is your favorite quote? “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” By Dr. Seuss.  This was my senior yearbook quote, and I love it so much that I bought a $20 decal to put on the wall of my dorm room.

What is your favorite time of year? Fall—which is odd because I’ve never truly experienced it until moving to the mainland for school. But seriously, what’s not love, with the fashion, scenery, and my hands-down favorite holiday, Halloween!

Plan ahead OR procrastinate? This is going to sound really weird, but I plan to procrastinate.  As in, I’ll do everything else that is important but not urgent and then save the really urgent items for when I absolutely need to.  For example, right now I’m writing this introduction of myself as a means of procrastinating from a survey I have to do 😉

Paper OR plastic? Neither—Tupperware all the way!

Glass half-full OR glass half-empty? To be honest, I’ve never analyzed a glass enough to know what I’d choose, but the short answer is that I’m a realist. As an Environmental Studies major, it’s pretty much impossible to do what I do and naively think the world is all peaches and cream.  But it doesn’t mean I don’t try—one of my hall-mates just told me I seem impossibly optimistic, so I guess all that laughing and smiling is paying off 😉

Introvert OR extrovert? Extrovert. For awhile I thought I could be an ambivert, but I recently retook the MBTI and scored so far on the extroverted side that there really is no room for questioning.

Cats OR Dogs? I want to say cats, but the truth is I really only love my own cat, and don’t have much affection for the rest of the species.  I like dogs as well, but my real obsession is horses—not only do I have a horse poster in my dorm room, but I already have the names of my three horses (and their coloring) picked out.

Morning person OR night person? I’ll say night, since my peak productivity period is usually between the hours of 10 pm and 1 am, although I don’t mind mornings either, as long as I’ve slept well.  I’m at my worst around noon or 1 pm: I always have to grab a cup of coffee to risk not falling asleep in class.

If you could be any color crayon, what would you be and why? The color of my personality and Nationals interview dress, hot pink!  In a box of crayons, it stands out, and when I went to DC over fall break, my hot pink dress helped my friends find me among a sea of black and navy business casual.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now? More food than the usual college student, that’s for sure! A few weeks into college I got tired of the dining hall food and cancelled my meal plan, so now my fridge is filled with a hodgepodge of microwaveables, leftovers, fruit/veggie smoothies, yogurt, and some kind of toaster-ready breakfast food (currently it’s waffles).

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, with whom would it be? Anne of Green Gables.  That was the novel I put down as my favorite book on my Nationals bio, and to this day Anne is my number-one fictional character of all time.  There’s something just so romantic about living on Prince Edward Island in the 1800’s, although that might just be me, seeing as when I announced this dream at Nationals I distinctly remember everyone around erupting into laughter.

What is the one thing you wish someone had told you about college life that you had to find out on your own? Time management is a real struggle.  I learned this the hard way, after getting sick for almost a week after midterms. Perhaps because I’d always considered myself pretty good at managing my time in high school, I assumed the adjustment would be mostly in terms of cooking and cleaning for myself.  I completely didn’t factor in how little self control I’d have without parents around, often chilling in my hall-mates’ room until 2 in the morning, or online shopping until 4.

Sum yourself up in three words. Loud, loving, blunt.

Describe your single-most favorite moment from your Distinguished Young Women experience.  I arrived in Mobile after a 14-hour flight, about two hours before the start of the Opening Ceremony, and suffice to say I was absolutely exhausted.  That first Monday was honestly a blur to me because I was so tired overwhelmed from all the people to meet and names to remember.  Not to mention, there were so many of us girls that I barely had a chance to talk to everyone individually, much less get to know then.  But then came Camp Grace, the idyllic location for us to get to know each other and bond with our group [s/o to #GreenTeamDreamTeam!] However, the highlight of the experience was hands-down the campfire—previously, all the topics we’d touched on were that which you’d expect in the first 48 hours of meeting someone, but that night, things got real deep real fast.  For the first time, we began to share those parts of us that weren’t necessarily the prettiest or the happiest but nevertheless that which was vital in molding us into our present self.  So many tears were shed that night, but they were necessary to cement our relationships to sisterhood.  Whatever happened after didn’t matter, because we’d able to establish this foundation of love and trust.

P.S. When Máire was announced as our representative, I straight up lost it because I loved her so much.  And by “lost it,” I mean that it was as if there were fireworks spewing from my eye sockets, it was that bad. Which is great for showing support for your friends and all, but terrible for pictures, which having made top ten I had absolutely no chance of avoiding. And since my emotions were the only ones clearly still in overdrive by the time we took them, of course I ended up looking like a pug that had its tail stepped on, and of course this is the one pic that DYW decides to plaster onto every one of its social media outlets.  So if you’re looking at next year’s program book and wondering why the short Asian on the right looks like she just choked on an apricot pit, now you know I was just trying to stay true to myself.  (Which you should ALWAYS DO, even and especially if it ends up haunting you from every corner of the internet).

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