An AthLeader's Journey: Sisy Chen's Drive to Break Gender Norms and Represent Her Heritage
During high school, Sisy realized that she wanted to take volleyball more seriously, so she decided to play club with Chicago Elite Volleyball Club. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Sisy's heritage has always played a big role in her life.
She is aware of the many difficulties her parents faced with the language barrier and various cultural differences when they immigrated from China to attend college in the United States. Through the discrimination and hardship, her mother's courage and positivity taught sisy to never give up, work hard and embrace failure.
This mindset has driven Sisy to pursue her early passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). A 4.0 student, Sisy founded the MediClub at her school and is currently co-president, as well as president of her school's HOSA Chapter, an international student organization recognized to promote career opportunities in the health care industry. On top of that, she is a part of her high school’s Science Olympiad team and Math Team.
"When I was little, I remember asking my parents tons of “why?” questions about the world surrounding us" explains Sisy. "I believe that my passion for STEM formed from books, movies, my love of LEGOs, and all the interesting concepts I would learn in science and math class. However, as I grew older, I realized that there was a great disparity between men and women in the STEM fields, and that minority women were extremely underrepresented in science."
Sisy helps lead an after-school program called “MathematiGals”, where girls at her high school go to local elementary schools to teach girls about math topics that are not covered in a traditional classroom curriculum. By being a part of “Mathematigals,” Sisy feels that she can support and help girls have more opportunity in STEM.
"Even today, women only make up only 28% of the science and engineering workforce. Being a woman of color myself, I am extremely passionate about empowering young girls to pursue their interests in STEM and break gender norms."
Sisy's Chinese heritage is also something that she holds close to her heart, and has sparked her desire to give back to Asian communities in Chicago.
"In Asian American Club, we create a space where everyone can come learn about different intersections of Asian identities and appreciate the diversity in Asian cultures and communities."
Sisy volunteers at different community events and enjoys giving back to the Chinese community that has supported her throughout her childhood. She has grown up celebrating Chinese holidays with her family and playing Mahjong with family and friends on the weekends.
"My involvement in community service has taught me so many valuable life lessons. I have met so many amazing individuals through my service, and I continue to be inspired by their courage and compassion every day. I have learned to be grateful for everything that I have; my family, my friends, my abilities, my identity and so much more.
"My personal experiences and my mother’s experiences with discrimination have pushed me to advocate for greater gender and racial diversity in STEM and equity across different communities in Chicago."
Sisy plans to become a pediatric neurologist, while also conducting research about various terminal diseases related to the brain. She also would like to set up a national non-profit organization that aims to empower young girls to pursue their passions in STEM by providing mentorship and fun activities that encapsulate various fields in science, math, technology or engineering.
Sisy hopes to influence other Asian American athletes and inspire them to work hard to achieve their goals, and not let other pressures take away from what is put in on the court.
"Volleyball has definitely challenged me in so many different ways- both mentally and physically. I have learned so much about what good leadership means and the importance of teamwork. Leading my team and supporting my team both on and off the court has taught me a lot about communication and perseverance."
We cannot wait to follow Sisy's journey as this 2019 Ultra Ankle JVA AthLeader continues to pave her own path and inspire so many along the way.
Chicago Elite Volleyball Club is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the junior volleyball experience for players, coaches, clubs and fans.