Former UW student Xinxin Zhang is seeking to become Miss Universe Canada in the upcoming weeks.

The Masters of Accounting graduate is now a successful woman in finance, working in New York City as a Mergers & Acquisitions Deal Advisor for KPMG.

Zhang credits some of her success to the University of Waterloo, stating “the [university’s] environment helped me, 100 percent. When I got to UW, I was introduced to computer science and I found out about people working for companies such as Facebook and Google.”

It was around this time that she accompanied her friend – a fellow Waterloo student – on an eye-opening trip to New York City.

It was here that she was introduced to different companies, networked with people in her field, attended a tech conference, and participated in a Hackathon (including the AT&T challenge which her team won).

Zhang also acknowledges the friendships she made at UW as major contributors to her success, stating, “I couldn’t have done a lot of these things without their help along the way. You meet really great, smart people at the University of Waterloo.”

Upon graduation, Zhang made a smooth transition from the academic world to the business and finance world and made use of campus resources, including co-op and Career Services to help find her a good job.

“It’s often taken for granted at UW” she said.

“People from other schools have to network a lot harder, but we have companies coming to us, looking for graduates.”

Despite her success in business, Zhang admits, “I realized I was not the type of person who would focus on one area.”

“If I was just focusing on math for example, I would feel like I’m missing out on other things that make me happy,” she added.

Specifically, the 26-year-old missed the performing arts, as she used to be an avid singer, dancer, and piano player. Zhang believes the Miss Universe Pageant is “very much artistic in that it involves stage performance.”

She is accustomed to this aspect of the competition, as she was former Miss Teen Canada International 1st Runner Up, and has experience on the runway in New York Fashion Week 2016.

Aside from the aspect of performing, the Waterloo alumna also values the part of the competition which involves giving back to the community.

As a Miss Universe Canada competitor, Zhang is an ambassador for Operation Smile, which provides safe surgical care for children suffering from cleft lips and palates. 

Among other organizations, Zhang also used to volunteer for the Toronto Community and Cultural Centre.

It was here that she helped develop a youth training program and choreographed dances for functions and fundraisers alike.

When asked how she balances such a busy schedule, she straightforwardly responded, “I don’t sleep.”

“A lot of these [tasks] are things I’m not doing last minute. And I already have the skills from before, now I’m just repackaging it.”

Zhang is undoubtedly working hard to achieve this next goal, finding financial and dress sponsors, working for Operation Smile, and preparing her fitness for competition.

Despite all this, she remains humble, saying quite simply, “I’m just trying to make the most of opportunities that present themselves.”

“I don’t really think about the result, I just give it a try and wait to see what happens.”

To vote for the UW alumna, visit: http://missuniversecanada.ca/vote-2017/

The pageant itself will take place Oct. 5 and Oct. 7. Students and supporter can now place their votes once every six hours per IP address.

Tickets to attend the event are available on Ticketmaster.

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