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After Pilgrimage to Tibet, MSLCE Student Decides to Pursue Photography Career

By Amy Ross

Just a couple of years ago, Tony Tang’s career plans had little do with the arts.

After moving to the U.S. from China in eighth grade, he attended high-school at a prestigious prep school in Connecticut. He thoroughly enjoyed his photography classes, where he developed film in a dark room and grew fond of the entire photographic experience. Yet the camera felt like nothing more than something to use for a pastime. After a brief encounter with bioengineering, he pursued his undergraduate degree in economics at the University of California in San Diego, with an aim to start his own business or work in investment banking.

However, two years ago, a spiritual pilgrimage to Tibet dramatically changed his love for photography into a vocation that he felt compelled to pursue. During that trip, Tang made an unplanned visit to an orphanage in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, where he captured the images of blind children. The experience so deeply moved him that he knew he needed to do something more.

“I took pictures of the beautiful scenery and portraits of the children and brought those back to Shanghai, where I lived at the time, and I organized a fundraiser for the children,” said the 23-year-old. “I had done photography since high-school, but that experience is what made me a real photographer. After that I realized that I could use my hobby and my skills to actually help someone,” said Tang, who remains profoundly committed to his Buddhist faith.

Tang learned of the MSLCE and decided to reorient his professional path in a direction that would allow him to converge his interest in finance with his love of photography and his desire to help others. “I am really interested in the non-profit art scene and arts organizations, so my main goal is trying to make a contribution to society and not just profit. I believe they can coexist,” said Tang. His long term goal is to establish his own art management firm, but in the short term he is interested in learning the ropes of the creative industries and perhaps acquiring experience at a consulting firm where he can develop the skills he will need in his own business.

“I know the program will have a lot of people with different artistic skills and backgrounds and I will be able to connect with them, and just as importantly, I think I will learn the management and leadership skills that will help me along the way, starting my own business or non-profit organization,” he said.