Joining the Church in Hong Kong when she was 10 years old, senior Taffie Kwok said her dream was to come to BYU–Hawaii and fulfilling that dream has changed her life. She graduates on April 16 majoring in communications and minoring in marketing and entrepreneurship.
“I was a convert when I was 10, served a mission and came to BYUH even though I didn’t have a strong testimony at the time,” Kwok said. “I just felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Before getting admitted into BYUH, Kwok said she was accepted at a college in Hong Kong but didn’t feel good about it. She said her nonmember father wasn’t happy about her decision to leave Hong Kong and come to Laie for college.
However, she said she took a leap of faith, was accepted to BYUH and is thankful she came because she met amazing people, served a mission and “had the experience of living in a multicultural environment.”
Next, Kwok said she is headed to graduate school at BYU in Provo.
She said, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Be willing to try new things. Keep trying. The best time to try things out is in college.” She advised people to remember they are loved, the people around them want to help them and God will place people in their lives to help them find their own way.
Graduating on April 16 along with Kwok is her longtime childhood friend, Tsz Chin Lam (Esther), who is also from Hong Kong and is majoring in math and computer science.
“I have known [Kwok] since we were both 10. If I can only describe [Kwok] in three words, I will describe her as one of the most loving, active and caring girls I ever met. If [I] see her on campus, she is always making cards or small gifts for her friends or someone who she just barely knows. She loves everyone and shares her love with everyone.”
Loves learning and marketing
Kwok said she finds marketing fascinating and loves how it requires creativity and people skills. She said she enjoys learning about all the different aspects of marketing and finds fulfillment in creating content for marketing projects.
Jeff Christensen, the director of the Center for HTM and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Business & Government, said, Kwok “is fiercely independent. … At the same time, she is a vibrant, outgoing people-person who thrives in fast-paced, rapidly changing environments.
“She has an entrepreneurial spirit and a thirst for learning. One thing that really impresses me about her is her drive to succeed. She is committed to doing her best and puts in long hours to practice and get things right.”
Talking about Kwok, Lam said she is active physically and mentally because she loves hiking and learning. “She is never satisfied with the skills she has. She constantly seeks to improve. From learning how to take good pictures to having her own YouTube channel; from painting to sewing dresses; and from intercultural studies to entrepreneurship and counseling, she never stops learning.”
Kwok said knowing how to market helped her to start her own creatively-shaped scented candle business during the pandemic when she went back home to Hong Kong. She said it was challenging to start her business during the pandemic because she wasn’t sure how to grow it.
She explained her candles are aromatic and can improve the health of body, mind and spirit. Kwok said you can see her candles on her Instagram page, @nuancandle.
While working on her business, Kwok said one of her friends was going through something difficult, so she made her a mountain-shaped candle in her favorite color of blue to help her and make her feel better.
Kwok has several personal marketing programs she curates, like an English-language Hawaii travel blog, a marketing blog in Chinese and her creative candle business.
Loves working with a team
At the Willes Center’s Great Ideas competition in the Fall of 2021, Kwok said she and her teammates took first place for their business, Lumi, a light décor 3D model printing business founded by BYUH student Ezra Dwayne. He started printing out 3D sacrament trays to give to members of the Church who were quarantining at home. That grew into designing temples that could light up, she explained.
Christensen said, “I coached [Kwok] and her team during the Fall 2021 Great Ideas competition. She loved learning how to market her team's product more effectively, so much so that she began attending my BUSM 304 marketing course all on her own without ever enrolling in it. She completed the assignments and participated in class, not because she was receiving credit for it, but because she really wanted to learn and grow.”
For Empower Your Dreams in March 2022, she said she worked with another team on a different idea that placed third in the Willes Center’s EYD competition.
Kwok said students should be willing to learn and work in teams because it can help them to share ideas, network and learn to solve problems with others. People “can go faster alone, but [they] can go farther with others,” she said, emphasizing how people don’t have to do everything on their own.
In addition, she said working in a team provides opportunities “to solve interpersonal conflicts,” which helps people to learn about their selves “and gain greater self-awareness.”
For those who may struggle with self-defeating thoughts, she said, “Being too harsh on yourself means you aren’t grateful to God for what he has given you.”
Kwok said she is now working with the Willes Center’s Enactus group to prepare to compete in a national competition in New York at the end of April. She explained she is a member of the support team and they are presenting on Enactus’ program in Kiribati, which is helping the people there turn sand into soil to grow crops.
Enactus’ website explains it “is the world’s largest experiential learning platform dedicated to creating a better world while developing the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and social innovators. The Enactus network of global business, academic and student leaders are unified by our vision—to create a better, more sustainable world.”
Historically, BYUH’s Enactus team has been competitive at both national and international levels with programs to help people in the Philippines, Cambodia, Africa and more.
Loves to help others
After graduation, Kwok said she will be heading to BYU in Provo to work on a master’s in marriage and family therapy. She said she was one of about 13 people admitted into the program for Fall 2022.
“I think this comes from my experience with depression during the pandemic,” she said. Calling herself a generally a happy person, she said when her depression got worse, she reached out and talked to people to get help.
Kwok said talking about mental health is taboo in Asia, and many people can’t afford it. “If I get a license in this industry,” she said, “I can go back and help people in Asia with this issue.” Kwok said ever since she was a child, she has wanted to do what she can to help others.
Lam added, “Just like everyone, [Kwok] has experienced a lot and had many struggles in life. Despite all the opposition in her life, she was determined to serve a mission, we actually served the same mission too, and serve others. Her experience made her very strong and very convincing when she is helping me.
“I bet a lot of people who know her feel the same way as I do,” Lam continued. “[Kwok] is always busy and always has something going on with her life, but she always offers help and is always willing to listen to me. She is such an important friend in my life.”
At the Asia Pacific Career Conference on campus, Kwok said she met a recruiter from BYU in Provo’s psychology department. Even though it wasn’t her undergraduate focus, she said she made a connection with the recruiter, was able to share information about herself and was admitted to the program.
Kwok also credits Sister Sheila Huntsman, the experimental learning coordinator for the Faculty of Business & Government on campus, for helping through the process to get into graduate school. Kwok said Huntsman has a background in mental health and has done training projects in Asia, which helped her to see what possibilities there could be for her future.
Huntsman said, “I have had some great conversations with [Kwok]. She is very energetic, motivated to work hard and utilize her education to further her career, giving her all to anything she's involved in. She has been very successful in her quest to pursue a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy and earned a place this Fall in the MFT master's degree program at BYU in Provo. I am very excited to see her thrive in this program, for all that she will learn and how she will bless the lives of those she works with.”
Kwok said meeting the recruiter and the help of Huntsman and others were all miracles to help her get into the program and prepare her for this next period of her life.