5 in 5: Emily Cheng

1.  What inspires you to be more creative?

I know this probably sounds cliché, but really, the oddness and quirkiness that lies in everyday life and the fantasy worlds that authors and pop culture have created. I’m kind of obsessed with random oddities, and I think that makes life much more colorful. Someone once asked me what inspired me to dye my hair unnatural colors, and my response was that doing so made me feel filled with hope and wonder, like anything is possible. This is definitely tied to my love of fantasy/fiction novels. I’ve been an avid fiction/fantasy reader since I was a kid.

2.  I know you moved to the Bricktown area not too long ago.  What has that experience been like?

In a word: AWESOME! My husband and I moved to the Deep Deuce area in early 2008, at the start of the revitalization, and since then we’ve been blown away by how much it has changed. That area now has a hotel, several local-owned restaurants, and a grocery store. I’m also extremely happy that these are (mostly) locally-owned small businesses instead of retail chains. It’s been super exciting to watch, and I seriously wouldn’t trade living downtown for anything. I love falling asleep to the sound of cars driving on the highway, train whistles, and just general city noises.

3.  How have you seen the vibe of Oklahoma City evolve over the last few years?

I believe Oklahoma City has undergone tremendous cultural changes since I moved here in 2005. We’ve seen a dramatic urban revitalization and community cohesiveness. What sums it up best is Bleu Garten, the downtown food truck park. It’s a place where everyone can gather outdoors (year-round!) and enjoy diverse food from local vendors. I’m not sure I ever would have imagined this happening if someone told me about it ten years ago! I’ve also noticed that the cultural diversity of Oklahoma City itself has increased, which makes me fall in love with it even more.

4.  As an academic advisor on our campus and the Advisor for Students with Disabilities, can you talk about what special abilities our students with disabilities often exhibit that help them during their college experience?

I’ve noticed that a lot of our students with disabilities are some of the most strong and determined folks I’ve met, and they’ve had no shortage of challenges to meet during their lives. What’s important is how they’ve dealt with those challenges, learned from them, and it’s made them stronger. Having been to college myself, I think determination, not IQ or high school GPA, is the number one predictor of success. Another thing I’ve noticed about our students with disabilities is their courage and optimism. It’s truly inspiring. It’s really an honor to be a part of these student’s lives and to watch them be successful, and I love that OSU-OKC gives them that chance.

5.  What is your favorite Oklahoma eatery?

This is such an incredibly difficult question because I have so many! At the top of the list is Haiget’s, an Ethiopian and Kenyan restaurant in Edmond. They serve some of the most flavorful, healthy, and fresh ethnic food I’ve ever had. It’s more like visiting someone in their home and having them cook for you versus the traditional restaurant experience. The folks who run it are a lovely Ethiopian and Kenyan couple, and even though the food is amazing it’s the people who work there who really make it special. It’s my husband’s favorite restaurant as well and in fact we are going there tomorrow!

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