p. Tina Ho is the human version of the energizer bunny. Her current involvements range from serving as the student representative to the Board of Visitors to being a youth soccer coach. Every Wednesday night when the clock hits 10:30 p.m., a group of students leave their study groups and late night meetings to rance their way down D.O.G. Street. Tina, as usual leads the pack. This week’s That Girl discusses her reconstructive surgeries, her passion for medicine, and the true art of rancing.
p. What attracted you to the College?
p. I mainly came to William and Mary because of the Murray Scholar Program, which really sealed deal for me. The scholarship provides the equivalent of full in-state tuition for four incoming students and ensured the opportunity and attention I would get here. What I didn’t know at the time was how perfect of a fit William and Mary would be for me … the service oriented campus is what I needed to nurture my own passion for service. I’ve realized how amazing William and Mary itself is, beyond the program, because of the breadth of opportunities within the classroom or on campus. I also knew that William and Mary would prepare me well pre-med wise. If I was able to do well here, I knew I would have just as good of a chance being accepted to top medical schools as if I had gone to a private or Ivy-caliber school.
p. How did studying at Oxford last semester help to prepare you for medical school?
p. Oh, I’m homesick for Oxford. The whole academic experience itself was incredibly rewarding. The school has a tutorial system where you meet once a week with your professor for an hour. It was typical to have a paper due every week and, as a science major who does not write papers often or enjoy them as much, it was initially a real challenge. I would have a list of 10 books and would have to get them, read them, and then write my paper. At the tutorial session, the professor might ask me to read or summarize the paper and would sometimes challenge my ideas on the spot. It was really nice and invigorating not to be doing something for a grade, but rather for the learning experience. The discussions allowed me to become much more assertive and confident in a discussion kind of environment or atmosphere.
p. What spurred your initial interest in medicine?
p. One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have experienced eight reconstructive surgeries between birth and the fourth grade. Basically, I was born with a nevus on the side of my head, which is a large mole or pigmented area. It could have been potentially cancerous so, through several surgeries, we had it removed. At one point, I had balloons in my scalp for tissue expansion. Ten years of my life were consumed by tiresome check-ups, appointments and nights spent at the hospital.
p. The inspiration for [studying medicine], however, is my grandfather. He started work early in his teenage years to support his several younger siblings and even spent seven years in prison while part of a resistance force against French occupation. The father of five successful children, this was a selfless man who sacrificed himself for the well-being of others. All he wanted was for an individual in his family to become a doctor. Although my grandfather will never know my future that I am so dedicated to fulfill for him, I am fortunate enough to have been able to meet my role-model once and experience firsthand the great man he was. I just hope.
p. You’re currently seeing the other side of reconstructive surgery. Can you tell me about your experiences at Operation Smile?
p. I first learned about Operation Smile when I visited Princeton during their Admittance Weekend my senior year in high school. At some point, I learned the non-profit was based in Norfolk, and through a component of the Murray Scholarship, looked to gain exposure to a different type of medical experience being that it was on the non-profit side. Given my history and service values, I also though it might be a possible direction I’d want to take with medicine. Last spring, I called about internship opportunities and filled out one of their applications. One of the co-founders of the organization called me from Los Angeles to find out more about what I was hoping to get out of the experience which really impressed me. I have been interning there in the office of the CEO and their education department since that call.
p. Your passion for rancing transferred over to even your medical school essays. When did your involvement with that start and how would you describe what it is?
p. The art of rancing (running and dancing at the same time) has become my favorite pastime in college. It is a pastime that I was introduced to only one year ago, yet defines the essence of the individual I have matured into during my collegiate career. It is a phenomenon hard to describe just in words. For me, this outdoors activity is defined as a simultaneous combination of running and dancing to the tune of an iPod or other exclusive music source. Rancing is a pre-planned event, but occurs as a spontaneous process.