Alumni

Alumni profile - Zoe Chen

It is not your job to impress everyone, if you are constantly worried about what people think of you, you will never get to where you need to be in life and end up stuck with the consequences of your own actions. Make a conscious effort to make autonomous decisions, remember to have fun and shape the future you want for yourself.

 

(Law LLB, 2019)

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Can you tell me a bit about Divergent Thinking and what inspired you to start it?

Divergent Thinking UK is a social enterprise based in London that offers a wide range of workshops and training seminars focusing around harnessing your different ways of thinking and encouraging creative communication. The current educational system often stigmatizes difference, specifically, different ways of thinking. We have found that its rigid system squanders young people’s creativity, and this is a major problem as creativity is closely linked with our different ways of thinking.

We found that every educational system in the world has the same hierarchy of subjects; with maths, literacy and science positioned at the top and creative arts ultimately left at the bottom. We believe this is grossly inaccurate as creativity is now just as important and should be treated with the same status in education as literacy, mathematics or science. We believe that thinking outside the box and stretching your creative capacity is a good thing that can lead to amazing and innovative ideas. Thinking differently is incredibly diverse, it can be visual, it can be with sound, and it can be kinaesthetic! It is an area of untapped potential that needs to be explored. Ultimately, if we do not take risks and challenge our creative capacity, how are we going to come up with anything original?

I created Divergent Thinking UK because I wanted to provide educational resources to help young professionals proactively explore how they think and learn, and nurture important skills such as creative thinking, innovation and determination. This is particularly relatable for disadvantaged and marginalized youth groups who do not necessarily enjoy the privileges of high-quality education and access to creative ways of teaching. During Covid 19, we delivered a range of free educational programmes online focusing on creative forms of communication that reached over 1400 young people from over 50 countries worldwide. Going forward, we hope to grow this venture and carry on making a positive impact for young people’s lives.

 

I enjoy seeing positive changes in people’s lives and want to fight for a better future for the world

Why did you choose to study Law? Why Queen Mary?

Law is such a fascinating and broad discipline that allows us to better understand human behaviour and our society. It grapples with complex ethical, philosophical and moral problems, and challenged me to sharpen my mind and critically analyse. Studying law does not necessarily mean you have to become a lawyer, the skills gained from studying law is transferable and also prepares for diverse careers in government, international organisations, and business etc.

I chose to study at Queen Mary because it is an internationally diverse university and is well established as a centre of national and international excellence in legal study and research.

How did your time at Queen Mary prepare you for life after graduation?

During my time at Queen Mary, I was an occasional writer for my university’s legal newspaper, The Advocate, a workshop facilitator for the SPITE for Schools project, and worked as a case worker for the Freedom Law Clinic. These experiences helped improve my critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills, and bolstered my overall skillset. I would highly recommend students to participate in these projects!

What motivates you in life?

I feel motivated by helping people. Some people will say they are motivated by money, but money is just a means to an end. I enjoy seeing positive changes in people’s lives and want to fight for a better future for the world. Helping people through my social enterprise Divergent Thinking UK allows my team and I to connect to young people globally, build up a stronger community of young entrepreneurs and help young people access educational resources that they would otherwise be unable to effort. I am grateful for this venture and the ability to create widespread impact for young people around the world.

What’s a piece of advice that changed your perspective?

I once read in an article ‘the unhappiest people are those who care the most about what other people think.’ Through my teenage years, I would always let the weight of other people’s thoughts influence my own decisions. But it is not your job to impress everyone, if you are constantly worried about what people think of you, you will never get to where you need to be in life and end up stuck with the consequences of your own actions. Make a conscious effort to make autonomous decisions, remember to have fun and shape the future you want for yourself.

Do you have any particularly fond memories of your time at Queen Mary?

My fondest memories at Queen Mary is the late night study sessions with my friends at the library followed by late night greasy fried chicken in Mile End.

What advice would you give a student considering their career options?

There is often a lot of pressure to secure the perfect job and figure everything out when you graduate, but let’s face it; no one knows what they are doing. It is ok to have no idea what you want to do or know what motivates you in life. It may take many jobs and many failures to find out what you truly want to do. Remember, everybody has a different journey, so it is futile to compare. Be open to every opportunity and to constantly learning, eventually you will find what motivates you in life and what makes you happy.

 

This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Hannah Dormor. If you would like to get in touch with Zoe or engage her in your work, please contact Hannah at h.dormor@qmul.ac.uk.