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Looking to the Past for the Future

Daphne Tang’s fascination with history and other countries and cultures goes back to the stories her parents told her as a child. Immigrants from China, Tang’s parents settled at first in the New York City borough of Queens, and then when she turned 5, the family moved to suburban Somerset County in New Jersey. 

Tang’s parents shared with her what life was like for them growing up, about China’s tremendous economic development, and how the nation differs from the United States. 

“I loved hearing my parents’ stories about their lives in China,” says Tang, a senior majoring in international studies and economics. “Those stories sparked my interest in learning about the rest of the world.” 

Local Social History

Tang found herself drawn to Johns Hopkins for its diverse academic strengths in policy and international relations. She quickly joined the Foreign Affairs Symposium, a club dedicated to discussing global issues, and went on to serve as its co-executive director. Reflecting her concurrent interests, Tang also joined the professional development club Women in Business at JHU and rose to the role of co-president. 

Dovetailing with her studies, Tang cultivated a deep fascination with the social, political, and economic history of Hopkins’ home—the city of Baltimore. “I really value learning about the stories of the local community that I am a part of,” says Tang. 

While enrolled in a history seminar titled The Year 1968: Rebels, Revolutions & the Right-Wing Backlash, taught by Victoria Harms, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of History, Tang pursued a Baltimore-centric research paper. The paper compared the local legacies of the Holy Week Uprising in 1968, a wave of civil unrest in major U.S. cities following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the demonstrations against police brutality in 2015, following the death of Freddie Gray. 

Encouraged by Harms, Tang submitted the essay to an annual contest held by the Baltimore City Historical Society. In recognition of the essay’s insightful and nuanced analysis, the organization awarded Tang the 2021 Joseph L. Arnold Prize for Outstanding Writing on Baltimore’s History. 

Taking Work to the World

Following her undergraduate successes, Tang plans to attend law school to specialize in either international or business law. She can imagine herself working in government, given her prior internships at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, or in the private sector, based on her recent experience interning in compliance at investment bank Goldman Sachs. 

“I’ve learned so much in my years at Johns Hopkins,” says Tang. “I look forward to taking what I’ve learned out into the world and positively impacting people’s lives.”