AUSTIN, Texas—You won’t find Pericles Leng Cheng’s formula for success in any manual. Yet, success has come his way time and again, as evidenced by a stellar academic career that has produced scholarships, a Fulbright Fellowship and his latest highlight — recognition as a College Scholar in the UT Austin College of Natural Sciences.
He will be among more than 3,500 UT junior and senior students honored Saturday for achieving a grade point average of 3.5 or better at the 52nd Honors Day Program at Bass Concert Hall.
Born 26 years ago in Cyprus, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea, Cheng’s father was Chinese and his mother is Greek. He went to school in Cyprus and earned a seven-year full scholarship to attend a private school in Cyprus, The Grammar School. While in high school, he worked part-time in many different jobs, including ice cream vendor, waiter and even at a car wash.
When he was graduated from secondary school in 1992, Cheng joined the Cyprus National Guard and became a 2nd lieutenant in the artillery. He was in charge of the radio and telecommunications of his unit and was the commanding officer’s advisor in all radio and telecommunication issues. He also was selected to be a liaison officer for Zambia in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Limassol in 1993.
After the end of his military service in 1994, Cheng started working at Cyprus College as a computer support technician. When the Internet first appeared in Cyprus, he was put in charge of creating a Website for the college and maintaining it, thereby becoming the Webmaster.
He also performed duties of a network administrator and was responsible for the efficient work of eight servers. At the same time, Cheng worked part time as a technical support person in an Internet service provider, SpiderNet, and a computer company called G. Kallenos Infosystems.
In 1997, Cheng was encouraged to apply for a scholarship with the Fulbright Commission in Cyprus. He received a four-year, full scholarship to study in the United States for a bachelor’s degree. He chose to enroll at UT Austin, where he currently is an undergraduate student, and works part time as a senior student associate in the College of Natural Sciences.
“My biggest challenge was my own choice of coming to the United States,” Cheng said. “I was working for four years after the army and had settled down in my life. Then, after I received the Fulbright Scholarship, I just put everything behind me to come here and get the degree I always wanted. It was like a dream come true.”
His experience at UT is making that dream a reality, Cheng said. “I am really glad that I chose UT over the other universities that I applied to because I believe that it is one of the best universities in the United States.”
Cheng said he hopes to continue his pursuit of knowledge by attending graduate school at UT. “I really like UT and the life here in Austin,” he said. “The professors are all friendly, and they always want to help you in their own way.”