One ‘Amazing’ Bearcat
Meet University of Cincinnati alumna Cindy Chiang and her fiancé Ernie Halvorsen, both inspirational winners of CBS’s 19th season of The Amazing Race.
Before becoming a UC alum, Cindy earned her undergraduate degree as an honors student in biomedical engineering and was involved in as many activities as she could cram into a week. A member of Chi Omega sorority, Sigma Phi women’s honorary, Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society, Golden Key, and president of both the Women’s Panhellenic Association and CWEST (Cincinnati Women for Excellence and Spirit Together), Cindy made the seemingly impossible schedule part of her daily routine.
Fast forward to 2011--Cindy and Ernie watched the Amazing Race together for several seasons before Cindy suggested they submit an entry. Shortly thereafter, the newly engaged couple received notice that they were to be race contestants. The two travelled and competed in the televised contest for 23 days -- to twenty cities on four continents. Using clues provided at each leg of the journey, Cindy, Ernie and the other contestants performed prescribed tasks and raced off to their next destinations. In the end, Cindy and Ernie handily won The Race—receiving $1 million and announcing their honorable intent to dedicate the funds to improving the lives of children worldwide.
Cindy credits serving on the Student Alumni Council (SAC) as one of her favorite college experiences. Cindy recalls her time with UC SAC fondly because of the relationships she built with a broad cross-section of students, as well as alumni. Despite her involvement and growing confidence, Cindy knew she would be at the bottom of any professional hierarchy upon graduation. In order to be most competitive in the job market, she connected with three alumnae mentors: Kristin Bush, Heather Borchers Rogers and Caty Grzymajlo. Under their influence, she decided to work for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati.
Now grateful that she “couldn’t say no to volunteerism” as an undergraduate, Cindy knows the relationships she built with alumni as a student have had a tremendous impact on her life. Through that network, she not only carved out a meaningful career path, but also discovered the value in staying connected to the UC Alumni Association (UCAA).
Now a Chicago resident working for Kraft Foods, Cindy’s plans for the future are a perfect combination of the values and integrity she developed over time while both an undergrad and alumna at UC. She and Ernie are using their Amazing Race award funds to build a business that will encourage American youth to live a healthier lifestyle. Cindy and Ernie’s young athletes’ program will support academic scholarships for educating youth around the world.
In her not-so-spare time, Cindy serves on the UCAA’s strategic mission and goals committee. Ask Cindy what UCAA means to her, and she’s likely to tell you that everyone involved with the UC Alumni Association has affected her life.
According to Cindy “I’ve met some really inspirational alumni who challenged me to dream big and go for it. If it weren’t for the advice of UC alumni, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”