Westlake News PEOPLE

Yiru Pan: Enjoy Life as It Comes

19, 2022

Email: zhangchi@westlake.edu.cn
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Westlake University welcomed its inaugural undergraduate class of 60 students in 2022. 

The four sole female students caught the attention of everyone at the opening ceremony. 

Three months later, the novelty has waned. Each of these young women has shown her unique talent in sports, math, singing and more. 

Yiru Pan, one of the four young women, strikes us as a quiet and demure girl with her straight bangs and wide eyes. 

Describing herself as ”the indoor type” who’d happily spend the whole day away from the sun, she prefers to be ”managed”, claiming that she doesn’t have much leadership ambition. 

Yet Westlake is always looking for that sense of exploration and challenge in its students. How did she make the cut?

While her story may seem short and plain, we could still get a glimpse into her shining personality. 

In her second year of junior high school, Pan was encouraged to take the exam for Zhilin High School, the best high school in the Yueqing area. After getting in, she left home to study in a city that was 160 kilometers away.

One year later, her talent in chemistry started to show. She joined the training for the Chemistry Olympiad for ”the fun of learning chemical reactions”. Perhaps only her trainer saw the potential behind her seemingly easygoing personality. 

To teachers and parents, Pan was the golden child – her weekends and holidays were spent in cram school, and she never got to play. Fueled by interest, Pan managed to win the first prize in the Chemistry Olympiad in Zhejiang in her last year of senior high school. 

”I did complain, but I don’t think I ever thought of quitting,” Pan said. ”Perhaps I am one of those people who would stick with something they’ve chosen.”

She couldn’t really think of any particular reason for applying to Westlake. ”I just gave it a shot,” she said, noting it was exciting and challenging. She began to take it more seriously after passing the preliminary exam. Westlake University was vigorous, young and spirited, which seemed like a good match for her. 

Her parents weren’t so sure. They were concerned about the risks and pressure associated with choosing this newly established university. Upon learning more about Westlake, especially after Pan’s lobbying efforts, her parents chose to trust her. They believed their assertive daughter would make the right decision.  

That’s when Pan had her first summer vacation. She was traveling when her admission offer arrived, and only opened it after all her friends had already learned of their own destinies.

The first three months at Westlake were challenging. Pan jested about her life ”being dominated by math”, and the difficulty with English. She also lamented the result of the first chemistry quiz. But above all, it has been joyful.

Shortly after the new semester started, the dean of her residential college and 14 colleagues surprised her with a birthday party to celebrate her coming of age. 

Despite her aversion to exercise, Pan would go on hikes for hours with colleagues to enjoy the autumn in Hangzhou. 

She also has Prof. Li Deng, Xu Yiming Endowed Chair Professor of Chemistry and executive dean for the School of Science, as her advisor, with whom she discusses research and life. Pan jokes about her advisor being garrulous, while many others would kill to spend time with the winner of the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society.

Someone once said that undergraduates have a look of ”clear frivolity” in their eyes. We tend to agree with the clearness and not the latter part. Pan is clear about what she wants: It’s more important to enjoy life as it comes.