Starting fresh 

Pandemic or no pandemic, sophomore finds ways to thrive on campus. 

Peter Chau submits an assignment on his tablet
If Peter Chau could have one superpower, it would be the power to freeze time. “Then I could do everything I wanted,” Chau said. “No matter how hard you micromanage, you don’t have enough time and you always have to sacrifice something for whatever you want.” Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Maddy Stout

A quick glimpse at Peter Chau’s calendar tells you how closely he manages his day. From 5:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., every minute is accounted for, even the 15-minute walk from class to class.

If the Mizzou sophomore isn’t in one of his business classes – he’s carrying 18 hours this semester – he is serving in a leadership role in one of the organizations he is involved in.

When Chau’s class first arrived on campus in fall 2020, the world was battling a pandemic. Classes were held over Zoom, events were canceled, and the typical college experience seemed like a thing of the past.

Peter Chau walks in to class in Cornell Hall
When not in class or working with one of his student organizations, Chau makes time to practice Japanese or guitar. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

This academic year, classes and events are once again in-person, giving students a more traditional experience and more opportunities.

“There are a lot more people,” Chau said of this semester. “There are also a lot more opportunities to do what you want. You can get more involved, and you can just enjoy what college and what campus life are supposed to be like.”

Despite limited in-person opportunities last year, Chau was able to join Global Professionals, a business student organization that focuses on connecting business and international studies. Chau also found his place in the Asian American Association, a student organization that focuses on raising awareness of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures, histories and current issues.

“That really helped me to expand my bubble and my network and who I met,” Chau said.

Chau’s involvement has added to his sense of community. Last spring, the Asian American Association planned a small vigil after a series of attacks in the Atlanta area killed six women of Asian descent. The turnout was higher than expected.

“It evolved into a lot more people from both Mizzou and Columbia. That really showed that these people also cared,” Chau said.

Peter Chau spends time with friends in the Multicultural Center
Chau plans to study in Japan in the spring. “It seems like a very fun opportunity,” Chau said. “I just want to be able to do it before I really crack down on things like jobs.” Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

This year, Chau has been serving as co-programming chair on the Asian American Association’s executive board. He is also helping establish the Japanese Cultural Club, which he will serve as secretary next semester.

Chau is planning to study in Japan this spring semester, which will better prepare him for his future career as a business interpreter.

One thing that remains consistent this year and last has been Mizzou’s efforts to provide opportunities for students.

“My involvement is a lot more hands on this year,” Chau said. “It’s a lot more demanding because you have so many things to manage, and you have to actually be inspired. … But it is more fun.”

Peter Chau uses his tablet to join a video call
“Mizzou does a good job providing various opportunities for you to network and meet the right type of people, if you know what you’re looking for,” Chau said. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

Related stories

Live and direct 

Filling buckets

Ready to serve