Editor’s Note: Despite the necessary adjustment to virtual instruction for part of this semester, more than 6,000 talented students will earn their degrees in May and move on to become the next generation of leaders in the Central Valley and beyond. While every hardworking graduate deserves to be recognized, for the rest of the semester we will be sharing the inspiring stories of graduates like this one who have achieved at the highest levels or have overcome remarkable challenges. As University President Joseph I. Castro previously announced, the University looks forward to celebrating all of its deserving graduates at an in-person ceremony at a later date when it is deemed safe to do so.
Ziran Jiang was raised by a single mother in China, whose education did not surpass high school. His mother worked long hours to support him and his brother, focused on meeting their basic needs instead of encouraging them to pursue higher education. It was not until Jiang took his first chemistry class in high school that he realized his passion for learning.
At 18-years-old, Jiang was offered an opportunity to study in the United States. He took a leap of faith and ended up in Sacramento to study at the community college. He was overwhelmed by cultural changes and educational differences, and he began to question his decision to study abroad without any family to rely on.
Despite the challenges he encountered, his passion for chemistry motivated him to stay. Jiang transferred to Fresno State and graduated with a B.S in biochemistry. He was accepted into the graduate chemistry program and for the past three years, he has worked in Dr. Qiao-Hong Chen’s research group. This May, Jiang will graduate with a master’s degree in chemistry.
“My mother is very proud of my accomplishments,” Jiang said. “I am most proud of my work in Dr. Chen’s lab where I was able to research my Zampanolide Project that focuses on anti-prostate cancer drug model.”
In the lab, Jiang managed a group of students ranging from freshman to senior who are first-generation college students. He felt an obligation to provide them with guidance that their families were unable to provide.
“Ziran is indeed a model for our graduate students reflected in his research potential and productivity, and his capability in overcoming various challenges, as well as his strong leadership,” Chen said.
Jiang received 15 awards and honors during his college career. He also presented at the 39th annual Central California Research Symposium in Fresno, the 31st annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium and the 257th ACS National Meeting.
“While working with Dr. Chen in chemistry, he has published three papers in well-known journals and presented his research eight times at regional and national conferences,” said Dr. Jai-Pil Choi, chemistry professor at Fresno State.
Jiang’s goal is to find cures for diseases like cancer. He was accepted to three chemistry Ph.D. programs and chose the offer from UC San Diego. Jiang is the first in his family to graduate with a master’s degree. In a couple of years, he hopes to be the first in his family to graduate with a Ph.D.