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Chico State

Embracing Chico State’s Welcoming Student Atmosphere

Haeryong Cheong is photographed against a facebrick wall, wearing a black seater.
(Jason Halley / University Photographer)

Since 2016, approximately 1,600 Wildcats have studied abroad at one of 200 locations across 35 countries. In the opposite flight path, Chico State welcomes over 250 students from 54 nations annually. The following article is one of six student profiles included in ‘Passport to Self Discovery,’ a feature article in Chico Statements, Spring 2023.

  • Name: Haeryeong Cheong
  • Traveled from: Seoul, South Korea
  • Major: Animal Science

Haeryeong “Harry” Cheong has wanted to be a veterinarian since he was in high school. Leading up to college, his goal kept him focused on academics and long-term planning—it’s what ultimately drove him to leave South Korea after completing military service to study animal science in the United States.

With multiple acceptances at the start of 2020, the pandemic introduced novel obstacles that made the enrolling process especially difficult and expensive. “It costs a lot of money for international students to complete their undergraduate degree in this country,” Cheong said. He credits University staff and their relentless assistance as the tipping point in his decision. “The people from Chico State always checked on me and offered to help. They even suggested scholarships for me.”

What he found after enrolling was that Chico State’s personal touch extended well beyond the classroom—and that he thrived in this environment.

“In the agriculture department, there are a lot of students who want to go to veterinary grad school and our faculty members know everyone by name,” Cheong said. “They all really care about helping you build the future you want and finding opportunities to do research or community service work.”

Along the way to his senior year, Cheong has maintained perfect grades, become a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and combined his passion for animals with volunteer work at several animal shelters around Butte County.

Haeryong Cheong sits atop the sign in front of Kendall Hall on campus, which says 'California State University, Chico'. He has his arm outstretched.
Haeryong Cheong on campus weeks before graduation. (Jason Halley/ University Hall)

In 2021, he was also awarded the University’s prestigious Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award, which celebrates scholarship, extracurricular activities, and outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, and its Non-resident Tuition Fee Waiver Award.

Through his research projects at the Chico State University Farm, his focus on large animals, specifically cattle, has gravitated toward work that combines animal and climate science. He believes this is his calling. This fall, Cheong will be going to the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign to begin an MD program in veterinary medicine, which he plans to parlay into a career researching the mitigation of the production of methane by cattle—and its impact on climate change.  

Now in the final semester of his bachelor’s degree, he is seeing the results of his own growth in a variety of ways that he didn’t expect. As someone who has always considered himself to be shy and introverted, he is allowing new parts of himself to come through. Whether it’s an impromptu lunch at Madison Bear Garden, singing at the Associated Students Multicultural Night, or taking a casual loop through Bidwell Park, he loves how Chico has embraced him as much as he has embraced it.

“That’s something that happened to me while I was staying in Chico,” he said, with a laugh. “I realized that when a friend from Korea came to the United States and he told me, ‘Harry, you really changed—you talk too much now.’”