Skip to main content

Isabella Duan

ACE in China: 2018
Stanford University
Rowing Ltw (Women's)
Hillsborough, CA
Human Biology or Symbolic Systems
ACE Ambassador View Isabella's ambassador profile. View Profile
Profile View Isabella’s Student-Athlete profile on

“ACE is like no other in the opportunities it affords. It allows me make positive contributions to others’ lives through education and exercise, to contextualize my identity as a student-athlete from the United States, and to learn to execute projects as a member of a team composed of individuals from different backgrounds.”

Isabella’s past experiences with service include acting as a Dorm Captain and Dream Team member for Stanford University Dance Marathon (SUDM), the university’s largest philanthropic organization. By bringing the campus together for a fun-filled 24-hour dance event, SUDM raises awareness for inequities and disparities that exist within the healthcare community and raises money for SUDM’s beneficiary, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and their center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases. Isabella is also involved in Stanford Women’s Educational Erging Program through East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring (SWEEP), an afterschool program that teaches local youth the value of exercise through the use of an ergometer, a stationary machine that mimics the rowing motion.

ACE Ambassador Profile

young adult female snacking on popsicle outside

Isabella is a sophomore on the women’s lightweight rowing team. She is undecided between a Human Biology or Symbolic Systems major but plans on pursuing a career in medicine. On campus, she helps lead an educational erging program for elementary and middle schoolers to learn basic rowing skills and the joy and importance of physical activity. Her experience from this is what initially sparked her interest in ACE, but found that she has gained so much more than she ever expected from ACE in China, particularly in regards to her athletic, racial, and cultural identity and the importance of self-love and vulnerability. ACE has inspired her to involve her team in service-learning, set and achieve personal goals (scuba certification, for example!), and be a resource for future participants.

Want to hear more about Isabella’s ACE experience? Contact Isabella.

Dear Future #ACEathletes,

  • Best advice for learning about ACE: I chose the two programs that I applied for on the basis of which cultures I wanted to learn more about.
  • Best advice for applying for ACE: Talk to past participants before writing your application, so you know how to make your personal anecdotes relevant to that program.
  • Best advice for getting started at your program: Be very open minded! I know that personal space/time is important but at least in the beginning, make a point to hang out with people and talk to each person individually.
  • Tips for getting to know your community: Ask staff members and mentors questions outside of lecture or camp time. Also, for the research project, it was very valuable to interview local people because not only did we gain valuable firsthand information, we got to understand other complexities of Tibetan life and culture.
  • Tips for training: Try to work out, even if the altitude makes it difficult at first! If you stick with it, you’ll acclimate soon enough, and by the end of the program, it won’t bother you much anymore.
  • Tips for bringing ACE back to your team: I sent my teammates and coach postcards, which I now think was great way to share my in-the-moment experience and a bit of the beauty of the flora and fauna of Yunnan (since the postcards were printed from photos that Howman Wong had taken). But in order to make a larger impact, I could have sent photos to my entire team via GroupMe. This experience has made me bring service to my team, as I’m working on organizing service events for them to participate in during the season.
  • Reasons for staying involved in ACE: I want other people to participate in ACE and love it as much as I did!