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Photo: Jörg Meyer

Senior Snapshot: Sharon Liao CC’16

“I’ve been passionate about education and youth development, and Community Impact has helped me sustain and expand that passion.” –Sharon Liao CC’16

Majors: History and economics
Hometown: Cincinnati
Awards: Kings Crown Leadership Award – Civic Responsibility (2015), Kings Crown Leadership Award – Columbia Spirit (2016)
Clubs: Community Impact, Columbia College Senior Fund, Columbia College Student Ambassadors, Columbia College Women
Favorite Study Spot on Campus: The Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College


Leadership and service defined Sharon Liao CC’16’s time at the College, and she wasted no time making her mark.

Days after arriving, Liao became a volunteer ESL tutor with Community Impact (CI), a Columbia-based organization whose programs serve the communities around the University. She also participated in the Community Impact Leadership Program, which prepares first-years to take on leadership roles on campus, and was the lead coordinator for CILP as a sophomore. Most recently, she led field trips for low-income kids with CI’s Columbia Youth Adventurers.

“I’ve been passionate about education and youth development, and Community Impact has helped me sustain and expand that passion,” says Liao, who for two years also volunteered with Let’s Get Ready, a national nonprofit that provides free SAT prep for low-income high school students.

Liao traces those interests to her experience with Breakthrough Collaborative, a national organization that offers academic enrichment programs for underserved middle school students. Through Breakthrough Collaborative, she spent two summers teaching a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum in Cincinnati and came away feeling “curious about the operational side” of educational programming.

During summer 2014, Liao sated that curiosity through the Kenneth Cole Community Engagement Program, a partnership among the College and Engineering and fashion designer Kenneth Cole P: CC’10 that offers fellowships at community-based organizations in New York City. As a Kenneth Cole Fellow, Liao interned at YWCA, a nonprofit dedicated to ending racism and empowering women. There she helped create a framework for a STEM program for high school girls. “That was an awesome opportunity to see what it’s like to work at a nonprofit and work on a project that resonates with me,” says Liao.

On campus, Liao worked with the Columbia College Student Ambassadors and Columbia College Women to strengthen ties between students and alumni and also volunteered with the Columbia College Fund and the 2016 Columbia College Senior Fund.

Last summer, Liao interned with the NBA because she was “excited about the prospect of working at the intersection of business, sports and social impact.” This fall, she will rejoin the NBA via its Associate Program. She’ll work in four departments before being given a permanent position. Says Liao, “[The NBA] is an organization I’ve admired for a long time because of how it does its business and how it makes social impact an integral part of its mission.”

— Nathalie Alonso CC’08

Last updated Monday May 22, 2017

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