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Rising from Adversity, Olivia Cheung '11C, '17L Takes Her Next Step As a Successful Entrepreneur

Meet the 1Ls
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Olivia Cheung has come a long way from her grandmother’s Allen Street tenement, where she lived with her extended family after immigrating to New York City from Hong Kong as a young child. Rising from that difficult start, her parents built a wonderful life for her and her brother, until their good fortune turned sharply when Olivia was in her sophomore year at St. John’s University. 

“I was 19 and getting my B.S. in science at the time, and I had to think of a way to help support my family,” Olivia shares. After doing some research, and with absolutely no experience in the industry, she decided to open a beauty school in Flushing, Queens. “I put everything into the venture,” Olivia says, “and I spent the rest of my college years building my business and studying. I literally slept in my office.” Now in its seventh year, the school is thriving with hundreds of students attending four different programs. “At this point, I have a solid administration in place and the business is pretty much self-sustaining,” Olivia says.

Law school was a logical next step for this young entrepreneur, who speaks three different Chinese dialects and has an interest in fashion law and entertainment law. “I met Dean [Michael A.] Simons at an Admitted Students Day program and was really impressed,” Olivia recalls. He has since become a mentor to Olivia, who attends St. John’s on a full St. Thomas More scholarship and is one of three inaugural Intellectual Property Honors Scholars.“I love law school so far,” Olivia shares. “It’s a great fit as I grow as a business person and as a business leader who gives back to others.”