Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Lucas Chu - Story of Self


My name is Lucas.

My father’s parents were a medic and fighter pilot in the Taiwanese Nationalist army. His sister was offered schooling in Belgium, and the family followed before moving to Germany (he had to do 5th grade three times as a result). My mother’s parents also worked in the hospital, and after the Tianjin earthquake, moved to Shenzhen, where my mother graduated top of her class before attending Hamburg University and meeting my father. Twenty years, two kids, and two moves later, I was in New York. 

I went to an international kindergarten, public elementary and middle school, and finally Fordham Prep, a Jesuit Catholic all-boys high school in the Bronx, NY. Throughout my childhood, I spent thousands of hours playing games and making up stories with my brother, and followed him to a slew of volunteer activities. Through the core values and programming in the Boy Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, and student government, I became someone who always helped others first, felt comfortable leading that help, and was passionate about nearly everything. Through involvement in most clubs, perfect academics, some national awards, and raising $30k for charity, I got into Harvard (and others). 

Just when I finally found genuine friendship, fulfilling classes, and at home, COVID kicked us off campus.

In April, a girl in the MIT group chat I had snuck into asked for data analysis help on COVID, and wanting to help, I made data visualizations for the first time. Given how easy and how useful the graphs were, I decided to bring my friends together online, calling daily at midnight to work on projects.

When I returned home in April, I brought my friends together to form a small Discord group chat turned organization of 400 members collaborating on data projects and publishing research alongside the Harvard Center of Geographic Analysis. With this momentum, I created Erevna: a 501(c)(3) community that has brought 6000+ students together for meaningful remote learning experiences across research at Georgia Tech and University of Pennsylvania, insightful panels with prominent speakers (AG of MA, 3b1b, etc.), and data/policy solutions to today’s most pressing challenges. Last semester, I was the lead organizer for the Pandemic Policython, coordinating a team of over 50 in addition to checking in with 10 teams of ~12 volunteers that I had previously set up. In just over two months, I met and partnered with over 50 organizations, raised $2500, hosted 10 webinars for over 400 participants, and coordinated over 50 mentors from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to Goldman Sachs to judge over 150 5-15 page policy briefs. 

Students in my nonprofit have since volunteered over ten thousand hours, published multiple papers in top journals, and started innovative policythons to crowdsource civic innovation.

When I presented my Coronavirus Visualization Team in class, my professor offered to let me help, and I helped build cutting-edge knowledge products on economic policy questions to drive decision making for policymakers and philanthropic investment, specifically through cleaning and analyzing data from hundreds of sources through Stata for the Economic Tracker.

Despite no background in research, I’ve also been able to assist research on mentoring at the Business School, student sentiment at the metaLAB, spycraft at the Kennedy School, and put together teams for the Center for Geographic Analysis. After declaring an economics concentration, I visualized welfare calculators for the National Center for Children in Poverty and started as Chief of Staff of the Harvard College Economics Review this winter. This semester, I took a class on economic racial inequality, startup fundraising, creativity, and student leadership (this one!), among 5 others, and this summer, I'm continuing to visualize COVID at USAFacts.

Outside of classes, I joined the Memorial Church Steering Committee, the FAS Standing Committee on Public Service, and the Undergraduate Council to democratize the firehose of opportunity that is Harvard. Learn more about what I learned about the UC in my Story of Us.

Edit: Through these experiences, I learned a lot about club communications, some of which I compressed into a workshop for SOCIOL1130:


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