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Nine years after leaving China, Lawrence's Chen named top Salem State scholar-athlete

by Michael Muldoon, Eagle Tribune

Lawrence High boys’ tennis coach Eric Allshouse knew early on Chen Chen was special.

He recalled, “One of my first memories, I was an assistant coach. Chen had headphones on.”

Allshouse asked him what he was listening to. Chen said, “English.”

The confused coach figured that was some new hip-hop group.

But no, it was English as in English lessons to master his new language.

Allshouse said, “He just has that determination. Every coach and athlete loved him.”

That determination has served Chen Chen (his Twitter handle is @Chensquare77) well. He just won the John Galaris Award as Salem State’s top senior male scholar-athlete. He was the lone captain for the tennis team the last two years and he graduated with a 3.72 cumulative GPA as a business major with a concentration in accounting.

For anyone, that would be quite an accomplishment. For Chen Chen and his family, it’s so much more.

Nine years ago, Chen emigrated the 7,866 miles from Guangxi, China to Lawrence with little more than that celebrated determination.

His father and his step-mother worked long hours as third-shift materials handlers at The Eagle-Tribune. His mother still lives in China.

Chen knew if he was going to realize that American Dream he had read about in China, it would be up to him. And it wouldn’t be easy.


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