Saturday, January 15, 2005

Beauty queen Angela Yun Lu achieves perfect balance in life

By Peter Nguyen
At age 24, cover girl Angela Yun Lu has already seen and touched the stuff dreams are made of. Indeed, two years ago, she was crowned Miss Chinese Montreal 2003, and was sent to Hong Kong to represent Montreal in the glamorous Miss Chinese International (MCI) Pageant.

“At the MCI, they treat you like stars!” she recalls fondly, describing the red-carpet treatment, the pampering, the media attention and, of course, the unavoidable paperazzi.

“It was a shock to all of us (candidates). It was so surreal!”

Yet Angela is not just a pretty face, a slender body and a mellifluous voice. She is the epitome of the Renaissance ideal of beauty and intelligence.

Take her academic achievements, for instance. In 1997-1998, she won the University of Waterloo’s National Descartes Math Contest, the University of Toronto’s National Da Vinci Scholar competition and the Centenary Government Scholarship, from the Government of Newfoundland.

Then, during her subsequent computer science studies at McGill, she won the James McGill Scholarship for four years and earned a prestigious internship at Microsoft.

Being an excellent student, somehow, has always been second nature to Angela.

Her secret? Good study habits and “going where you want to go.”

Support is also important. Angela credits her father for being the most positive, and constant, source of influence in her life.

“My father always made sure I was not too stressed at school,” she says, gratefully.

As a matter of fact, Angela participated in the beauty pageant following her parents’ encouragement. They thought extra-curricular activities would balance her academic life. The rest, as they say, is history.

She won the crown in the Miss Chinese Montreal Pageant, organized by Ruth Koo Lam, chairman and founder of the beauty pageant.

While Angela is grateful for the glamorous experience, she always knew her focus would be academics, not entertainment.

After graduating in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science, First Class Honors from McGill University, Angela went on to work as software engineer for CAE for two years. Then, in a bold career-changing move, she decided to return to school to pursue a law degree.

Currently enrolled full-time at McGill University, she’s developing a strong interest in corporate law. In the future, she plans to work in merger and acquisition deals involving American and Chinese corporations, thus fully leveraging her linguistic abilities – she’s fluent in English, Chinese and French.

Speaking of cross-cultural business practices, Angela recalls a funny 2001 job interview in China, where she was invited to have dinner with the firm’s clients. Angela aptly summarizes the Chinese way of doing business: “Everything happens over dinner!”

Interestingly, everything in Angela’s life seems to happen with a perfect sense of balance. Her academic excellence, based on individual effort, is balanced by her crowning as a beauty queen, based on public performance. Her strong self-reliance is balanced by her exemplary involvement in the community (she volunteers as a mentor for the Big Brother Big Sister organization of Montreal, and as an MC for charity galas organized by the Montreal Chinese Hospital Foundation and the Montreal Chinese Arts and Cultural Center). Her technical computer science education is balanced by her current law studies, leading to an admittedly more liberal profession. And overall, her Chinese heritage and values seem harmoniously balanced by her Western education and lifestyle.

In the end, what makes Angela so special and unique may be this knack for achieving a rare sense of balance, for realizing an elusive ideal that is hard to describe yet can be felt in the presence of the inspiring beauty queen.