Richard Yao never expected to be made a local celebrity just by the click of a button. Yao, an RA and an HSS sophomore, signed up on The Facebook (www.thefacebook.com) to interact with his friends and meet new people. Now, Yao has likely the largest group at Carnegie Mellon on The Facebook.
"I found the group button [on The Facebook site] and couldn't think of a group to make, so I made the Richard Yao fan club," Yao says. "I invited five of my friends to join. Occasionally, I would find someone else to join, but then it just spiraled out of control. Now, it has over 140 members."
Yao encourages members of his fan club to message him and become "officers," such as "oh tall one" and "Wild One." He uses his cyber-celebrity to make new friends: he has plans for activities in the winter, like sledding in Schenley, ice skating, and snowball fights, and is planning a group half-price dinner in the near future. He wants his fan club to be as active as possible, and says the more members, the merrier.
A few weeks ago, some of Yao's Morewood Gardens residents took the fence and wrote "I heart R.Yao" to show their appreciation. There are now even T-shirts to promote the group, and Yao proposed that fan club members all wear them on the same day.
"I was walking around [that] Wednesday and I must've seen fifty people wearing the T-shirts," Yao said.
Yao is from Claremont, in Southern California. He misses his hometown, but enjoys Pittsburgh a lot, especially now that he has his own fan club. Yao has had people that he doesn't know come up to him and tell him that they're part of the club. He welcomes even strangers to join, because he sees them as potential new friends.
Yao's fame comes with responsibility: he says communicating with the fan club is a particularly hard task.
"Imagine sending out 140 messages and then getting all the responses and sorting through them."
Yao keeps himself busy when he is not managing his own Facebook fan club. He is working towards majors in history and English, would like to minor in Statistics, and is also looking into other fields such as law and creative writing.
Outside of classwork, Yao is a Resident Assistant in E-tower of MorewoodGardens, the Vice President of the Paintball Club and team, an "Andy's wrap-artist," and a member of AB Films. He is also a brother in Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Yao never expected to so quickly meet so many people that admire him, but remains down to earth about his Facebook fame.
"I'm a campus celebrity. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.... I'm just a big goofy Asian. I never expected this."
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