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Meet Our Learning Assistants: Yu-an ‘Andy’ Chan

Yu-an ‘Andy’ Chan
‘A Common Language’

Andy (Yu-an) Chan jokes that he became a learning assistant in order to afford the steep boba prices in Salt Lake. Back in his home country, Taiwan, boba is only $2, so when Chan began studying biology at the University of Utah two years ago, the $8+ drinks here were quite the culture shock. Chan always dreamt of studying abroad as an undergraduate and has been able to fulfill that dream in the College of Science.

“When I was in my freshman year, I enjoyed the atmosphere and how people engaged with each other in my calc class discussion,” Chan says. Understanding how people think differently helped him learn and develop his own ideas. Now through teaching, Chan not only gains a sense of achievement from helping his students, but also continues to strengthen his background knowledge.

This semester, as an LA for Calculus 1, Chan has found a common language with his peers through math. Chan leads a packed discussion section of 70 students. “Even though my primary language isn’t English, my students are still willing to listen to me and accept my teaching,” he says. “It’s an advantage for international students to be LAs. I can tolerate their accents and have patience while they stumble over their words. Some people speak Mandarin, and since that’s my first language, I can help them.”

Besides being an LA, Chan is involved on campus in the Science Research Initiative (SRI) in Professor Heejin Yoo’s plant immunology stream. “I’m measuring the impact of different amino acids on cell death,” he says. Chan has always been interested in biology, but the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a specific passion for immunology. He hopes to pursue a career centered on immunology either as a physician or researcher.

In the fray of classes, research, and teaching, Chan makes time for his friends, church, and hobbies. “I love to hang out with my friends and get boba, especially in Chinatown,” he says. “I also like to do karaoke, or anything related to music because when I was in high school, I was in a rock and roll club and won two titles in a singing competition.”

Chan is one of many rockstar LAs in the College of Science whose passion for teaching and bi-lingual background makes all the difference for his students. Being able to afford boba is just an added perk.

Story by Lauren Wigod


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