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Humans of Stern: Bill Tsai

Humans of Stern: Bill Tsai
Name: Bill Tsai (BS ‘18)
Concentration: Finance
Hometown: Taiwan
Year: 2018
NYU Activities & Involvement: Stern Student Council President

What brought you to NYU Stern/NYC?
I wanted to be in the city where I could be with a lot of people. The first thing I knew about NYU was that there was a lot of students here – people are not from one area or one town or one city, but from all over the world, all speaking in different languages. I grew up going to an international school in Taiwan. I wanted to have that kind of experience but make it bigger. You’re not just in Taiwan or Hong Kong. It’s not just Southeast Asia, it’s the entire world. So that’s really number one.

What was hardest thing about being away from home, as a freshman?
Disregarding that initial NYC culture shock and being away, it was being able to understand what freedom means. Here, you can go anywhere, your friends could come from anywhere. You can not see people when you walk outside the class. It drove me to choose: am I going to just see you every week in class, or am I  going to make plans and text you and take initiative to reach out and want to meet? I have tried to choose the second – to take that initiative. That has been the one thing that I’ve applied to everything, whether that be classes or work.

What is it like being the Student Council President, and what do you hope to accomplish?
I think it’s a role that is bigger than advertised. When you see people around, when people look at you, they think that is what NYU Stern is. And what I’ve realized is – and what  I’ve been told as well – is that even when I walk around as Bill Tsai instead of NYU Stern President, I am still NYU Stern President. Like whatever I do, the title follows. And you have to be very aware of that a spotlight is on you, and conduct yourself accordingly.

And moving on, looking at what I hope to accomplish: my opportunity is to move that spotlight to what I want to focus on. And this year, it’s really two things. First, reinforcing health and wellness in Stern. I want to bring more awareness to make sure our community knows that resources exist to support them. We want to continue to foster a collaborative community where everyone feels supported.

And second, to utilize Student Council to connect upperclassmen and underclassmen to each other in a different way than they might be able to do though clubs. We truly believe that the value of being a member of the Stern community is in the relationships you build and in your advocacy and inclusion of others.  We have had over 80 mentor-mentee pairings of all majors and interests. It's an exciting time for the School and for the Council as NYU Stern's governing body. My team has done some fantastic work and I am looking forward to a very productive and happy year.

What is it you’re doing here at NYU Stern? What interests you, inspires you, what are your goals?
I remember when I was a freshman, I had two fantastic orientation leaders. They said something to me that first day – something that I’ve always remembered – and I try to tell everyone as much as I can: “To be a leader, you need to understand how to be a member or follower.” You need to understand who is listening to you, who will be executing what your visions are. And that really means you can’t slide into leadership positions, you really need to earn it, and start from the bottom. And that’s very important. It’s a humbling concept.

What advice do you have for freshmen, as someone who has gone through the NYU Stern experience?
Hold on to your values. I think the biggest thing is that you learn so many things in school. That’s a beautiful part of the school, but it's to figure out what you believe in. And then, when you meet all these people outside, you still stay true to yourself. You stay humble, you stay eager. Also, I believe it’s important to reach out, to go out and meet people. Don’t let people go.

Do you have any message you want to get out there before we wrap up?
Other than come out to student events every Tuesday, common hour T-200, really, it’s make some friends. That’s my biggest thing. Go out there. We’re all here for a reason, you know? Do what you want to do. Don’t do only what you need to do.