Manting Mandy Wong – DiversityJobs Scholarship Finalist for December 2011’s scholarship program for diversity and minority students is proud to announce  Manting Mandy Wong as one of the three finalists for its December deadline application. Vote for her essay by clicking the thumbs up button at the bottom of the page, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

Manting Mandy Wong’s Essay:

How did you choose your major? What obstacles have you had to overcome and what will it mean to you to graduate with this degree?

“Why are bacteria treated with antibiotics while viruses can only be eliminated with rest and a healthy immune system?” my father asks me. I can recall many moments where our conversation drifted into talks about the biology behind life. My dad’s unmistakable curiosity towards living things, driven by his lifelong disappointment of giving up college to take care of his mother and find work has profoundly influenced my interests, appreciation of education, and curious personality. A yearlong passion, during those long blazing summer afternoons and after elementary school, crafting a miniature habitat for snails, Louise and Joel in a shoebox—with leaves from pink roses and olive trees found in the front lawn and branches from my Japanese maple tree—would be my most excited plan as soon as coming home. Other times, it would be trapping spiders and ants in empty plastic bottles to test predator, prey interactions. Through trials, I had observed that webs are characteristically that of spiders as they meticulously wrapped the deceased ants in a tight, oval-like bound.

Carefree times in childhood like these have significantly molded me towards the biological sciences major. Thanks to my parents, I had the freedom to sit in the garden all day , cultivate experiments, and contemplate. Where invention and individual thinking was fostered, I remember a magical haven in uncovering characteristics within and between organisms, observing backyard insect taxonomy, and comparing a collection of experiments, their processes and results. This deep passion for living things carried on to high school, and presently, at the University of California.

In the summer of 2007, I was offered a temporary position at Stanford’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. Voice shaking and highly impatient, a mother tells me her 4 year old may have had a relapse with hematuria, symptoms including reoccurring abdominal pain, headaches, and having blood in the urine. In the beginning I was not sure how to handle a situation so delicate and unfortunate. After many similar cases, the nurses Gale and Lena began to trust in my ability to calm worried parents and ushered me the responsibility of handling urgent calls in the Nephrology department, which specializes in less severe to life-threatening kidney diseases. The administrative department required quick decision-making and overcoming undesirable and unpredictable situations, which I gradually grew accustomed to. This led to my improved leadership and management skills.

As an office administration temp, I was granted experience in human relations, learning the computer software systems for managing medical practices, and communication with families of patients. This positioned introduced me into a network of health insurance corporations like Blue Shield, renal nurses and physicians, referring doctors from around the globe, and a renal program manager who dealt with organ transplant.

There was much to see, ask, and absorb, and it was the experience I had been waiting for as a brainy, lacking real-life medical field experience, college student. With ambulance sirens ringing in the background, physicians having serious discussions about an autistic dialysis patient in the meeting room as I sat in, watched, and delivered coffee and patient medical history files. All of it, the medicinal world, the sickness and the hope that still lingers, became bracingly real and fascinating.

As a first-generation college student, I have had to navigate the higher-education world with few direction from my parents and family. This has been a great challenge because while I have much freedom to explore and independently navigate the academic world, in the beginning I had struggled with understanding the purpose and function of college. Wide-eyed I explored different departments of academia, but ultimately, I had not known what they meant to me and what it could mean for my future. It took me two, perhaps all four and a half of these years of college to understand how to fully savor college and use it to its full beneficiary potential–how I can utilize knowledge learned from classes for the future and to foster and satisfy my intellectual curiosities. In the beginning I wanted to steer my college career towards what I perceived to be successful (adding to the resume, what looks good). But in the end, college became a search for my identity and a place to uncover my true interests whether I had known what they were before college or not, and a place to make friends one has been searching for and to make friends one would not expect.

For example, I took a Chinese language course because I have always wanted to improve my Chinese (to my parents surprise) and two Asian American classes that has exposed the struggles of Asian Americans and what Asian Americans can do to be more pro-active in our communities. I have also joined two film clubs in my college career, feeding intellectual as well as social aspects of my college experience. Additionally, as a kid I had wanted to cure cancer. Now in college, despite being rejected by many professors, I persisted and have been able to attain an undergraduate research position in cancer and stem cell research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, fulfilling another curiosity of mine.

But while I have been exposed to many different and amazing realms of academia, I have also struggled with balance. Being a part of extracurricular activities is also a large part of the college experience, as well as work study and research. Balancing all these in addition to academics has not been easy. However, I would not take back some of the sacrifices I have made in my grades for the privileges of research and social and intellectual opportunities that I have added to my plate. I think the struggles of having a too busy college career is a privilege rather than a burden.

Thank you for reading my statement!