Six questions with the 2020 Vancouver Pinnacle Award recipient: Qinghong ‘Fiona’ Ma

Interview by Kenna Caprio

A young woman stands in front of a bright pink wall, with a rainbow above.

Qinghong “Fiona” Ma

May 13, 2020 — Qinghong “Fiona” Ma left her home in Zhenjiang, China — “a beautiful city located at the intersection of Yangzi River and the Grand Canal” — to pursue her higher education in Canada. “My hometown is known for producing top-quality vinegar. If you visit an Asian supermarket, you will find Gold Plum Chinkiang Vinegar in the condiment section,” she says. Nearly a world away, she became a Global Scholar and co-president of the FDU Vancouver Model United Nations Club. To cap her college career, she’s the Class of 2020’s Vancouver Pinnacle Award recipient.

FDU: In what ways has attending college at FDU transformed your life?

FA: My years at FDU shaped me into who I am today, not only professionally, but also personally. All the skills that I can confidently put on my résumé today were obtained from FDU. Even after graduation, it will still be a place that feels like home. I am always inspired by everyone I met here; many of these people have now become my best friends.

FDU: How and why did you decide to study tourism, hospitality and digital marketing? 

FA: When I applied for this program in 2015, I already had a passion for working in hotels and was looking for opportunities to develop a career in the hospitality and tourism industry. After two years at FDU, I developed an interest in other subjects, including marketing and social media management, which led me to focus on digital marketing.

FDU: What’s your most rewarding academic moment or memory? 

FA: My first trip to the National Model United Nations Conference in New York City, N.Y., is one of my best memories. I was a delegate on the Commission on the Status of Women representing Malawi, a landlocked country in sub-Saharan Africa where custom laws override modern laws.

When I was conducting research, I was astonished by the condition of Malawian women and girls. So, with a genuine hope to improve the lives of underprivileged women and girls, I composed a position paper containing resolutions that the country and related international bodies can potentially act on. It was very rewarding when I received the Outstanding Position Paper Award as recognition for my effort. 

FDU: What do you do to focus, reset and relax?

FA: I am a nature lover. Whenever I need to relax and recharge, I will take a walk to the park, or find a hiking route. It always refreshes me and helps me focus on tasks better.

And animals always make me smile! My Instagram feed is full of cute pictures of cats, dogs, foxes and sloths.

FDU: How have you grown and adapted in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic?

FA: The biggest challenge has been separating work from personal time. When we’re working, resting and sleeping in the same space, we tend to feel tense about personal time and end up exhausted. I find it helpful to take a walk (in open space, maintaining social distancing) and have a good meal. It lifts the mental burden and gets me ready to rest.

FDU: What gives you purpose? 

FA: I want to make the world a better place, and I want to feel that I am making a difference.

After graduation, I’ll be working in customer service in the financial technology industry at PayPal.

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