50 Most Beautiful People for 2011

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Age: 26
Hometown: Keokuk, Iowa
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

It’s no accident that Amy Cheng exhibits model-like poise in front of a camera. Growing up, her family would spend time outside their Chinese restaurant taking photos of one another in a park, and later on, Cheng would pose for her younger sister as she was getting started in her fashion photography studies.

The legislative correspondent for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also waded into beauty pageants while in college, but mostly to advance her platform of civic engagement and community service. 

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“I’m always trying new things,” she says.

Those aren’t empty words. Cheng was the first person in her family to go to college — she graduated from the University of Iowa in 2008 with a business degree — and from then on she continued to look for different experiences.

Cheng first came to Washington in fall 2008 for a White House internship. She was assigned to the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, a good fit for her passion for outreach and volunteer work.

“I know this sounds kind of cliché, but doing community service, you learn how to love others,” Cheng says.

She then moved to Guiyang, China, for a couple of months to work at a therapeutic recreation center for foster children.

Since getting a job in Grassley’s office last year, Cheng has settled into Washington life, attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church, volunteering with Kids Enjoy Exercise Now and running on the National Mall and the Capital Crescent Trail. Not surprisingly, she’s picked up a “new thing”: couponing.

A while ago Cheng saw a stack of coupons at the checkout counter in her library and decided she’d cut them out. She has now lowered her monthly grocery bill to $50 and is hoping to cut it to $30 in the future. Will we soon see her on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing”?

“I think [that’s] a little bit too much,” she says.

—Kris Kitto

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