Meeting the National Board: James Ting


I sat down with James on a lively Sunday afternoon during his dedicated Step 1 study time. He connected to our call to reveal a backdrop of stuffed animals and kpop posters on the wall. I had a feeling that this was not his room. As we began our conversation, James was open and candid. As we continued, we discussed everything from the engineering jungle of his childhood to his visions for medical policy in the future. Read on to find out more!

[APAMSA] So who are you?
[JAMES] I’m James Ting, a 2nd year at Hopkins, and I’m currently the Advocacy Chair for APAMSA.

What does the Health Advocacy Chair do?
My role encourages and facilitates the participation of medical students to get more involved in the political process. I think it’s super important and it’s under-recognized at this point in many people’s careers. I recently went to a meeting for our state society where we discussed ideas that we thought should be proposed to legislation and I think it’s really important for people to get involved even if it’s just getting informed about how the system works, especially when pertaining to healthcare and places we can provide input for.

What are some of the things you have done in this position?
So thus far I have been working to create a system where we can allow for APAMSA to develop a voice/united stance on specific issues. I think this is important since this organization represents such a large cohort of people. There’s such a diversity of people who can fall into this category. I think it’s important for an organization like APAMSA to create tools to help people get their voices heard. So if we do agree we can make it known that we feel that way. I think it’s important to have a system where we can see what people think and in what ways so we can avoid having people like a board just decide what they think their members think without finding out for real. I think it’s important that leadership have the tools to find that out to empower those who agree with a sentiment.

James at an AMA meeting in Washington DC

What do you do in your study breaks?
If I’m taking like a very short break I’ll watch like League of Legends highlights videos. They’re like 5-10 mins, a good small break. I’ll watch one TSM or CLG video and I’ll be done. If it’s a longer break I like to watch movies or tv shows. Silicon Valley, House of Cards, the occasional kdrama binge, etc.
If they were to make a highlight video of your life, who would you want to play you?
Hmmm, good question. Shoot, who’s the guy who plays the Harold and Kumar guy? He was in Star Trek?
Uhhhh I’m not sure, the moment I look it up I know I’ll realize I knew it all along.
Well I’d pick him, because he’s attractive so I gotta make up for what I don’t have right now
John Cho
Ah John Cho. Yeah, him. There was actually this huge meme thing where they put his face on a lot of movie posters. Did you know that?
It was a huge thing, about like Asian American representation in Hollywood.
I’ll check them out then…

James and his family

Tell me about life before med school
I grew up in an engineering family. Both my parents were engineers. For the longest time I figured I was going to go into engineering or be a physics professor or something like that. I went to an engineering high school, an engineering magnet school and so-
Geez where was this?
New jersey is like mad with magnet schools, they’re everywhere, it’s crazy. So I did like research at Princeton, I was like really gung ho about quantum mechanics and then I think I got a little disillusioned with it. I came to the realization that I just wasn’t smart enough, so I was like, okay whatever and went to undergrad thinking I’d do some combo of physics and bio since I felt like that’s a really grounded major and I could combine my interests. After like a year I found myself really favoring the bio/BME side of my interests. It also didn’t hurt that it was my best semester GPA when I started taking BME classes. I changed to be a BME major so I guess I flopped back to being somewhat in engineering.

When did you decide to go to med school?
Med school… hmm med school was sorta slowly warmed up for me. It was an ongoing process. In high school I shadowed and they were really great experiences, which was the only reason I even considered it. So I ended up choosing a college because I wanted to keep broad options open. When I volunteered at a physical rehab center and shadowed a dietitian, I had great experiences talking with patients and learning about their lives. That really helped keep that idea open despite all the engineering that was going on. I was learning about visual aids in nutrition counseling with that and back then I was super mind-blown at how innovative it was. I’m really interested now in bringing new ideas and finding new ways to help people. It got me really excited and this is pretty much where i am now

James's first National APAMSA colleagues

How did you get involved with APAMSA?
While I was at Yale I got involved in the Asian American cultural center because there was a webmaster position. I found the Asian American culture center to be a community I really wanted to be involved in, plus the webmaster position paid $$ so it was like amazing. The next year I became the head coordinator and got to interact with lots of other student organizations and learn about their experiences. Senior year we managed to organize a conference to showcase Asian American research, learn more, and to get involved with the issues. It was around then when I realized that Asian American representation really is inadequate. There was a point where I was like “Wow, I’m going to med school and there’s no way I can affect any change.” But then… wait what were you asking?
Uh, so how did you get involved with APAMSA?
Oh right, so! When I went to med school, I knew I wanted to stay involved with interest groups that represented AAPI med students since that was one of my motivations to get involved with public service. So this was something I wanted to always keep me grounded and rooted. I wanted to keep informed about what issues affect the AAPI population. So I went to the National Conference in Irvine knowing I wanted to be involved somehow. Unfortunately, I didn’t get elected for my 1st choice position… Or my 2nd... But the webmaster position was open so I went for that. Seriously it seems the webmaster position is always the gateway for me to get more involved with organizations. Being a part of the communications team was a great opportunity to see how the groups in APAMSA worked. I had a huge job with the website and how to improve it, of course with your help -
You’re welcome
-but it also allowed me to be a part of all these conversations that let me learn about what APAMSA leadership looks like and what I wanted to see changed. So that really is what inspired one of my goals this year which is to allow for our membership to vote and unify if there is something to unify on. I noticed the leadership was unsure about how to pursue some things because they weren’t sure how our membership felt. It’s something I’m working on now because I want the people we represent to have a voice and I want APAMSA to be able to be utilized as that voice.

James and his region at the 2016 national conference

What’re you most proud of accomplishing with APAMSA so far?
This isn’t from any of my positions, but I’m really proud of creating the AAPI Advocacy Chair position. I’m glad that during the meeting, uh voting conference thing
….yes, that haha. So at the election there was so much interest we even expanded the position to two people. It was something I had thought of the summer before and really wanted to get involved with. Looking back now I’m really glad it got other people involved because now we have people as passionate about this issue involved and I’m still on the team to help out with the same efforts. So I’m grateful that so many people stepped up to work on what I started as a pet project.

If you weren’t pursuing medicine, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
How about I answer this question instead
Wow you really preparing for politics.
Haha so in college I used to go around saying “if I could live another life knowing that I still have this one to live, there would be 3 things I’d be interested in doing.” One was becoming a military surgeon. I think part of me thinks I’m still an adrenaline junkie and wants to be hands-on. In reading Atul Gawande’s “Checklist Manifesto” he talks about a lot of medical innovations that have come from the battlefield. I thought that was really interesting, like at that point something is better than nothing so people have to be creative. The second would be to be a marine biologist. I took a comparative anatomy class and in the lab we dissected salamanders, sharks, [redacted] and I learned a lot. One of my bucket list items is to go to Ecuador and live like Charles Darwin for a few days. The last one is to be a League of Legends coach. I don’t play many video games, League is probably the one I play the most. I think it’s super interesting because it’s like an elaborate game of chess that has more moving parts. It’s all artificial and that’s what’s so amazing to me. It’s not like football or soccer where there are actually physical limitations to what can or cannot be done. In League one thing could be changed and there’s all these mechanics and synergy that you can get super creative with and think strategically about and it’s super fascinating to me. I sense like a Hail Mary email to the Cloud9 sales team saying I’d be happy to work with their analyst team, but I’m bronze 2 so (background laughter is heard) I’m not very good at this game.

James after running a long distance for fun

What do you think is the biggest problem with healthcare in general today?
This may or may not be a trap for my future political career
It is.
Haha. To me it’s something that’s become very prominent in news today, which is how we pay for healthcare. It’s something that I don’t have enough knowledge on so I’m still learning a lot about it. I think some people come to the issue with a solution in mind and approach the issue looking for evidence to support it so I want to learn more about it first. Like I think there are some tenants that should be followed, like that everyone should be covered and anything that removes coverage from people should be steered away from. There are some things that I have been involved with or seen that I feel have been going in the wrong direction, but I don’t feel like I have an answer as to what ultimately is the right solution. The nuance is the focus of what I think is significant.

What’s a first world problem you’re dealing with at the moment?
I’m not been able to get 9 hrs of sleep every night and that’s what I need. I don’t know what the problem is, maybe I have sleep apnea and should get that checked out, but yeah that’s the problem.
Uh huh
Somehow step 1 has been helpful for that since I can control my schedule with study, break, and sleep times to make sure I get it. BUT if I have to adjust it and I get 8 hrs of sleep one night I actually feel terrible the next day so.. It happens. Idk how i’m going to survive surgery.
You won’t really have a choice
That’s fair

James playing the bass

What do you do to de-stress?
I used to really enjoy practicing kendo, but I haven’t been able to do that recently. My practice partners and I have been getting busy and some injuries got in the way. It’s a huge destresser because you’re in there and you’re just yelling and sweating and you get physically exhausted and it’s great.

Have you ever cried in a movie?
Yes, I have cried a lot and in a lot of movies
Which one do you think made you cry the most?
Oh, the movie “3 Idiots” made me cry the absolute most. Initially I was thinking Big Hero 6, and I’ve cried in a lot of movies, like Pixar movies, Disney movies, but I cried like two times in that one. Y’know because in most movies they climax and that’s where you cry cuz you’re like, omg this is what the entire movie was leading up to. But that movie made me cry in like two different instances within 3 hours
That’s a really long movie
Yeah it was like a fake bollywood movie, like a pseudo one because it makes fun of bollywood tropes but yeah it was really good, I’ve watched it like 3 times now
That’s like 9 hrs of your life
But it was worth it dude

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I have a tattoo of 3 EKG beats on my side. Primarily because I shadowed a family friend in cardiology and it really contributed to me going into medicine and 3 is my lucky number.

James waving a flag around

When do you feel the most creative?
Probably when I’m taking a shower or the 5 mins before i go to bed.
Any memorable accomplishments in those 2 times?
[literal 45 second pause]
I don’t know, these are always small things, like… I don’t know, an acronym for something I come up with or maybe a present I’m trying to get someone for Christmas it’ll usually come then, or something. Yeah.

If you could steal credit for any song/film/book, which one would you claim?
I’m gonna say… The Giver. I really liked it growing up. Another one of my life aspirations is to write a sci fi novel and I think the giver really sparked my interest in sci fi. And it’s not like it’s your typical sci fi novel so it’s really interesting. Also I actually read it twice when I was in middle school and that’s like the book every 6th grade had to read, so if everyone has to read it then everyone’s going to know your book so I’d claim that.

Local APAMSA hang out

If you could have anyone in the world make you dinner, who would it be?
I’m generally not very picky for my food, so this summer I ate at 3-
You and the number 3 again
Haha this one’s just a coincidence, but there’s a list of top 50 restaurants in the world and it’s not the one by Michelin, there’s like another one, like or something, it’s legit despite its name
Not gonna say anything
Haha anyway 3 of them were in Lima where I was at this summer, so I went to all of them. It was really fun eating at them because there were a lot of courses and each one is basically a piece of artwork. It was just fun to see it and take photos of it so I don’t know who but… oh, Jiro, Jiro is the one i’d want, that guy. The dreams of sushi guy, because it’s a similar multiple course thing. That movie is pretty cool, that guy’s gone through decades of training and he’d have a lot to say

Anything you would like to say to our members and readers?
I feel like at every major milestone in my life I’ve experienced uncertainty. But looking back to like when I was 15 keeps me grounded with how far I’ve come. Back then, I think I had pretty low expectations about what I would do in life. I still feel like that sometimes, but I think I’m now going in a direction where I’ve accomplished things that I’m proud of. I think me as a 15 year old would be astonished to know. So yeah, what I would say is that if you’ve gotten to this point, don’t feel like you need to go change your expectations - something is already working. It might not feel like it’s working, but something’s there so keep at it.

Thank you, James, for spending some of your rare Step 1 break time to talk with us! To get in touch with James and learn more about Advocacy at APAMSA, get in touch with him at

Meeting the National Board: Samantha Wu

With over 4000 members in more than 80 chapters, keeping tabs on APAMSA’s membership is a tough task. Samantha Wu, one of our National Membership Directors, has the job of starting and maintaining those relationships with the chapters. Sitting down with Samantha [on the internet], she recounted her experiences from blindly joining APAMSA, revitalizing her local chapter, and taking on a national role in the organization. But what she recounts most fondly was her campaign for turtle liberation.

Introduce us to yourself, what is your position in APAMSA?
"My name is Samantha Wu, I’m a 4th year med student at Michigan State University College of  Human Medicine and I am National APAMSA’s co-membership director."

What does the co-membership director do exactly?
"There’s two of us, I’m more in charge of new chapters, chapters that re-initiate, and I keep track of all the current chapters and their statuses"

What do you think is the hardest part of your position?
"We’re all busy med students, so it’s really difficult at times to keep in touch with people. That’s why there is a membership director role to begin with. We try to make sure chapters stay active and are active in their communities and we try to make sure that they know they have support here and that we’re here for if they need help for whatever. New chapters in particular sometimes have a hard time getting the ball rolling if they don’t have a foundation set yet, so we try to help get them set up and going. Since all of this is via telecommunication, I haven’t met most of them in person so I’m talking with them on video conference or telephone, but mostly email. It’s very easy for them to focus on school and other things and fall out of touch with us and it’s kind of difficult to maintain constant communication."

In your free time, what kind of media do you like to consume?
"That’s tough, probably depends on my mood. I’m a big fan of Pandora and dancing in the room. I probably have Pandora on at every free moment possible. Getting up, showering, breakfast, etc. The stations vary vastly as well. So… music."

The author of Samantha's song

In that case, if someone were to write a song about you, who would you want to write it?  
"Probably my mom? Only because she knows me, so she could actually write from the heart."
In what style?
"Hmmm probably like a country love song."
So your mom as early Taylor Swift?
"Only the early one, not the current one. Not that I don’t like the current one."

Tell me about your life before med school.
"I was actually pre-law at Cornell. I did a pre-health post bac and did some post grad science work before medical school. I didn’t know what kind of healthcare I wanted to go into, so I actually worked in an optometrist's office and as an orthodontist's assistant at some point as well. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a dentist or optometrist or something. I eventually decided on medicine because I liked the option of doing other things instead of just eyes and teeth."

What inspired you to go into healthcare?
"I always wanted to serve under-served populations and I thought pre-law would be the best way to do it. I actually studied Asian studies and “law and society” thinking I would focus on immigration law and I studied urban planning in the architecture school, which is very under-served focused.  I thought putting them together would work towards the same goal as helping people in need and the under-served so I thought it was a good course of study. But then I realized I wanted to help people in a way that’s like really necessary. Not that a lawyer doesn’t, but like in a way that I could help literally any person anywhere"
In what way was that?
"Like, life and death is essential to the human experience and I wanted to be a part of that so I thought that a better way to help people would be medicine. Also I really like science, like I realized I didn’t want to read and write all day long, and I find science really interesting so I wanted to learn more about that"

What are some hobbies of yours? Besides medicine.
"I do ski-patrol here at school. We’re the ones who wear the red and yellow jackets that monitor the ski slopes and stuff. It’s quite cold and long winters in northern Michigan so I’ve taken great joy in outdoor snow activities in my free time."
Did you start doing those things when you went to Michigan?
"I used to snowboard a ton before med school. Not skiing though, I did a little bit of skiing as a kid but I’ve done it a lot more now here."

Samantha in a cold place

How did you choose the medical school you went to?
"Throughout college and my time between, I really wanted to focus on helping the under-served. One of the great things about Michigan State is it’s a community based med school"
What does that mean, a “community based” med school?
"So basically the medical school was built to make doctors who would work in various communities. Michigan as a state is really diverse. You’ve got areas like Detroit, a huge metropolitan city, and Flint, which you know has the water crisis, or you can drive 8 hrs north and get to the upper peninsula which is very rural, so there’s just vastly different types of medicine right there just looking at the populations. Michigan State has 7 campuses all over the state.  So 3rd and 4th year we pick which campus we want to learn from and they’re very focused on serving their populations."

Is that idea in general what attracted you to these types of programs?
"Yeah Michigan State wasn’t the only one that was focused on the under-served and community based. There was basically a set of schools that matched these focuses. I really like the environment and attitude of Michigan State so it was everything I wanted in one place which is why I chose it."

How did you get involved with APAMSA?
"So my big sib when I just started at MSU- "
Big sib?
"We have big sibs, like a mentoring program, a second year that they match you with based on your interests. She had just restarted APAMSA at Michigan State. The national conference, which was maybe 3 weeks after school started, was an hour away at University of Michigan. So she was like “join APAMSA” and I was like ok, and then she was like “come with us to this National Conference thing” so I was like yeah I’ll come. So we were sitting there at the conference and nobody was running for regional director of our Midwest region so she nudges me and is like “Sami, do it!” Basically I was peer pressured into running for it so I became a regional director.

I also eventually became president of the local chapter of APAMSA and that was great. I felt like I was able to get people who I don’t think would’ve gotten involved in APAMSA to start participating. That was a great experience. It’s just fun. Especially since at Michigan a lot of the people who were interested in international health were not from Michigan. So a lot of people who were from Michigan who hadn’t had much exposure to these issues have gotten to learn a lot, which was really cool for me. I came from California and went to Cornell and then came to Michigan, where there's not a large population. Like I don’t think people knew here that hep b was a big deal with Asian patients compared to like in California I think most people know that, so it was good to get even a couple people who didn’t know that before informed about something new."

Samantha with a flip phone

How did you end up being on national board?
"It was cool seeing the organization grow throughout the years so I wanted to try something different and find out more about the avenues of it so I chose to be sponsorship director. I had done a lot of fundraising throughout my volunteer experiences through the past, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to contribute to APAMSA. This year, I decided to be membership director specifically because it was going to be my last year and I thought it would be nice to get people involved in APAMSA before I left. I would be able to interact with people all over the nation and I would get the full, broad taste of APAMSA from everywhere. It was fun going out to regional conferences and meeting people throughout the country, compared to my first two years which was mostly with people in the midwest, and it was nice this year to go to new York and meet more people and branch out my APAMSA network."

In all your time on APAMSA, what are you most proud of accomplishing?
"Thinking back, I’ve watched this organization grow so much in these past years. I’m really proud of its progress and I’m proud to be part of that. I mean it’s so official now, so professional, we do such good work, and to see great leaders that have come and grown to help build this organization really is amazing to watch and I’m really lucky to be part of it. It’s crazy to see how much we’ve grown. Like the website - thinking about the website from back in the day and then looking at it now, it’s awesome now. Not that it wasn’t awesome before, but it’s so professional now, I think we’ve done such a great job. Y’know as membership director I get contacted by people who are from medical schools I hadn’t heard of and they want to join APAMSA because they went on our website and they read what we’re all about and want to join. All through our website! It’s pretty cool. It’s also really cool that it’s run by medical students that don’t have time."
When you put it like that, it doesn’t sound like much of a selling point
"Haha you have to remember that we’re not professionals yet and it’s a very large organization and if you look at what all these chapters do across the nation it’s amazing work. So many community events and health fairs and stuff. Lots of stuff that help communities all over the place. So I’ve been proud to be a part of it."

What do you think is the most pressing APA issue?
"This is not just an apa issue, more of a national one, but that we're made up of so many groups of people yet our health care guidelines are not population specific. I think the biggest issue is not having enough resources or guidelines for the APA population. Like, Screen at 22 is a perfect example (diabetes). How many people do you think were missed because normal bmi for an Asian person might be different for a non-asian person? I think we need, globally, to have more specific health care research for specific populations. People like APAMSA who do work for the specific population can be one of the ones who lead this kind of effort."

Samantha with a green.... thing

What is your vision for national APAMSA?
"I want to see it grow. I want to see more stability – a lot of it has to do with having individuals who are passionate about continuing it. We need to keep people actively participating and passionate about these issues. I think it starts with letting people know and keeping them involved on issues that can be worked on. Maybe since I’m membership director I see chapters coming in and fading out during the year. The problem is, if people don’t know there’s an issue to address, it’s hard to draw them in to participate and keep them wanting to help. Every chapter has their own unique identity, so it’s hard to require everyone to do things to keep them involved, so it’s hard to keep everyone active and involved in their own ways."

If someone asks you to tell a fun story about your life, what story do you default to?
"So at the local china town near me growing up they would sell turtles for people to use in like turtle soup. So I would go Chinatown and buy these turtles for like 5 bucks and go to Stone Lake in Golden Gate Park and release them. I used to also buy the fish and release them but I’m pretty sure we were just feeding the other fish. We did that until at some point they didn’t let you take the turtles live probably because they realized people were keeping them as pets so I couldn’t do it anymore."
Maybe it was because they weren’t licensed to sell pets?
"Maybe? But I was thinking maybe I wasn’t the only one that’s releasing them into the wild. I could’ve changed the ecosystem in Golden Gate Park maybe haha. Because we probably released at least like 20, maybe more. We used to do it a lot. I still remember doing that as a kid. Err not just as a kid, I did it for a long time. Until they didn’t allow us to anymore."

If you could go far back and redo anything but medicine, what would you be?
"I probably would’ve been a teacher. Like, I feel like medicine is teaching, which is why I want to do it. Every patient you have, you teach them so much about whatever is going on. A lot of people don’t know what’s happening physiologically with them with what they’re coming in with so I feel like we’re always teaching everyday so that’s probably why I chose that."

A penguin walks into your room right now wearing a sombrero, what does he say and why is he there?
"He says “it’s nice to see you again, I missed you” because that’s totally a friend I would have to hang out with."
That was an incredibly decisive and much more coherent response than I was expecting.
"No really! I love penguins and I love fiestas, I’m pretty sure he’d be a friend of mine."

What do you do to de-stress?
"Play the piano. I have a baby grand piano in my living room that I like to play."
Wow that’s hardcore
"I actually hated lessons growing up. I only took them because my mother forced me to because she liked hearing it. I am so very grateful that I know how to play now because it’s probably the best stress relief I’ve had in med school."

What’s something you’ve done that only you would find amusing?
"That’s a lot of things haha.
I have a little goose friend lives on the beach. There’s this one beach I always go to that’s right by my school. I go run there, eat lunch there, watch the sunset there and I would see this goose there sometimes. I haven’t seen him there probably for about a year and he showed up again the other day and I couldn’t believe he was there! That’s why I took a picture (below) I found that really amusing."

Goose 2016
Goose 2017









What advice would you give your 15 year old self?
"I ummm I don’t think I’d give myself any advice. You know, I think I am the person I am today because of all the good and bad experiences I’ve had. I’m happy where I am and I think you grow and learn lessons from the mistakes you make in the past. I wouldn’t want to not make the mistakes I made because I might not be who I am today."

If you could steal credit for any song/film/book, which one would you claim?
"Ender’s Game. I want credit for Ender’s Game."
"It’s genius, it’s a genius book. I think it’s full of good ideas, great entertainment, and there’s huge character development like there’s a lot of characters in it in such a short amount of time. I read it when I was younger and I don’t think I realized or understand the empathy until I got older and read it again. Like, when I was young it was just a cool book, but when I read it again there was so much deeper and more intense than I had seen when I was younger. I love all those books in that series."

Do you have anything to say to the members/readers of APAMSA
"I would just want to thank everyone for all their hard work and for making this organization so great. It’s not an individual thing, it’s a collective collaborative effort of all our hard work. We all do our parts and it’s great to see what we can accomplish together. Honestly, it’s crazy to see such a large org being run by so few people at the national level. Its pretty amazing. We have such great leaders who are inspired and passionate to make a difference really doing a good job and really keeping this train going."

Thank you, Samantha, for taking the time to share your story with us! You can reach Samantha regarding her APAMSA responsibilities at

Meeting the National Board: Jiyoon (Junne) Park


National APAMSA’s core mission is to provide support for our member’s efforts and activities. Some of the ways we do this is by providing educational resources, connecting our members with partners, or with money. Do you ever wonder where that money comes from? To find that out, I asked one of our sponsorship directors about her entire life.

Introduce yourself, what is your role in APAMSA?
I’m Junne Park. Well, Jiyoon Park, but I go by Junne. I am a national sponsorship director and I was the 2016-2017 co-president of the Medical College of Wisconsin APAMSA chapter.

As national sponsorship chair, what do you do?
My biggest job is to attract sponsors and donors to give to APAMSA and support our conferences and activities. I develop relationships with organizations and I also draft contracts and deals with them so we can help support our members in ways like offers, discounts, grants, etc.

Said lawyer friend

If this interview was a documentary, who do you think should narrate it?
Hmmmm so I have a friend from highschool that I’m still very close to. We’re entirely different – I’m a medical student and she’s a law student. When we get into problems, hard times, or just discouraged, we talk to each other and it’s nice that we’re both students but we study different things. I have other friends who are working and making money (sad laugh) and they actually enjoy their time on vacation instead of using it to study (sadder laugh) for step or a bar exam. Talking with her gives a different perspective of some of the hardships from someone being a student. We’ve also known each other for a really long time so we know how each other thinks, each other’s personality, etc. I think she would be a really great narrator for me because I sometimes have trouble expressing my emotions and thoughts, but she gets some of the complexities in my head that I can’t express to others.
So basically, when you say something, she could read between the lines and tell us what you REALLY think.
Exactly. Especially since I’m not a great orator and have some trouble expressing my thoughts and logic, or maybe she’s just really good at it since she’s going to be a lawyer and that’s what she does for a living. So yeah, I think she’d be a great narrator for me.

Tell me about life before med school.
I grew up in California and went to high school there. My high school was very unique in the sense that the student body population was 75% Asian Americans. The environment was on the competitive side and that’s honestly why I wanted to get out of California for college. I realized I lived in a bubble with majority being Asian so diversity for me was not the same as for most. I really wanted to get out of my bubble, so that’s why I ended up going to University of Rochester. Honestly, that’s where I think I grew the most. That’s the first time I experienced discrimination and it was the first time I experienced what it was like being a minority. And not just as an Asian American, but also as a Korean American. That really changed me. In Asian culture, you know, parents are very giving when it comes to education. Here I realized the different environments people grew up in and the things people sacrificed for their education. It really opened my eyes to what people have to sacrifice for an education or what they really want to do in life.

example of Junne's crafts

What got you through the week in college?
I think what got me through the week were the people around me. No matter where I’ve gone, I’ve made a few really good friends. I find comfort in really getting to know someone and spending a lot of 1 to 1 time with them. So every week me and my friends would choose a day and do whatever – like go out to eat or hang out. If it wasn’t for them it would have been a lot harder to get through the week. Also art, rock climbing, tennis, and like crafts in general. Like painting!

When and how did you know you wanted to go into medicine?
I knew since I was younger, like very young, that I wanted to be a doctor. Part of that was my mom, who wanted to be a doctor since she was young. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to be one and became a nutritionist. When she had me, she had to quit her job so ever since I was young she always put that little thing in my head like, “hey how about being a doctor?”. I realized I wanted to pursue medicine when I shadowed an oncologist in Rochester and saw the way she interacted with patients. Like, when she saw patients, they always had a smile. Like, her patients have cancer, but they smiled when they saw her. They made it seem like they were her family members and she really put in the passion and the work. When I talked with them, they would go on and on about how great she is and how much she helped their families. It made me really want to be like her, to be that person for a patient. Not only as someone to give medical advice, but to help them get through hard times – more than just a doctor. So that’s why I want to pursue medicine.
So you’ve known since forever
Haha, even as far back as 7th grade biology I had this teacher, who was a medical student turned science teacher, who made us memorize stuff like bones of the body, the physiology of the ear, etc. His class was by far my favorite class in middle school and I think it got me started and I just kept going from there. All my experiences in the medical field or academics in that area were very positive so I kept going.

Junne's family

How did you choose the medical school you ended up going to?
So it was down to MCW and the east coast. You know how they say Wisconsinites are nice? They really are. [editor’s note: editor is from Wisconsin, just fyi] So when I had the interview, everyone was really supportive. The M3s and others were all very supportive and happy, like in a happy to be there way. Like as happy as they could be as medical students. I had good conversations with all the people there and even got invited to go ice-skating afterwards. I couldn’t go, but I had a really positive experience, especially considering I was stressed out of my mind. It was a stark contrast to the other schools I interviewed at and left a really warm impression. It came down to that feeling against geography and I picked MCW.

What do you wish you had known before starting medical school?
To have fun. I wish I knew to actually have fun during my free time. Like, after first year summer it just doesn’t stop after that. There’s always something to do. I get anxious when I’m not doing anything, so I wish I had slowed down and really appreciated actual free time and kept in touch with my friends and family better.


How did you get involved with APAMSA?
You know how I said earlier that I grew up in an Asian majority area? So when people talked about Asian minority issues, I really couldn’t relate. The idea that we don’t talk about mental health and stuff like that… yeah it’s true, I grew up not really thinking about that since nobody thought about that. I just got into the mode that was like “well, that’s just how life really is” and my move to Rochester was a significant part of life since it showed me a lot of the norms I grew up with were not normal everywhere else. It was really eye-opening and really showed me some of the unique difficulties that Asian communities really have. So when I got to MCW, there was an organization fair on the first day and I just signed up for everything.
So you’re in APAMSA because you signed up for everything on the first day?
Well I joined APAMSA because their table was like “join! Join!” and they were trying to recruit all the Asian Americans hahaha.
Sounds about right.
So I signed up and on the first week of school, that Friday, we had a giant welcome dinner at Dr. Li’s house, our advisor. Like, everyone comes, not just M1s and M2s, and it’s a really big deal. The current officers make a meal for everyone and we just mingle and hang out. It was great to see and talk and get to know people and that’s how I started off. In all that excitement, and because I was a gunner M1, I applied to be the M1 liaison. As the liaison, I went to a lot of the activities and got the feeling that this was something I really wanted to be more involved with. Then there was a regional conference, which was conveniently in Chicago and right after an exam, and it was really great. Kevin (National APAMSA president at the time) actually spoke at the regional conference and, you know Kevin very well, right? He’s really passionate about how like APAMSA is going to be the greatest organization on earth and how like doing community service is so great blabla bla and how it changes the world. It actually sorta got to me, honestly it really got to me, and that’s how it began and how I got more and more involved with APAMSA.
He guilts plenty of people into national participation
Yeah, he guilted you too, right?
Yep. So how did that turn into a national role?
After the regional conference I became the co-president of our chapter. The national conference was also in Chicago, which made it really easy to go. I applied to be regional director and the national position but ended up with the national position.

What made you want to be a sponsorship director?
I wanted to do sponsorship because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet. I knew from working as co-president that the people working with the money get their fingers in everything, so I picked sponsorship because they interact with a lot of people in the organization.

Local APAMSA volunteering

What are you most proud of accomplishing in APAMSA so far?
This is really weird, but I’m most proud of the sponsorship package I took point on creating this year. When I started on national board, I felt the biggest problem I had was that I just didn’t know what to do. I had a vague sense of what I had to do, but I was really lost with who I had to contact, who we already contacted, what we already did, what we didn’t do, and I think the sponsorship package was actually the first step in creating some kind of organization in the sponsorship branch. I think it will make it a lot easier next year for the new directors for when they get started they’ll know what they have to do.
So what was the biggest challenge for you putting this packet together?
I think it’s like a mix of communication and … actually it’s just communication actually. Like, I’m in Wisconsin, a lot of people are on either coast, and it’s just easy for people to do things their own way and find sponsors in their own communities and figure stuff out for themselves without having to wait for someone else to okay it. One of the biggest problems we had was people not knowing who was in charge of what. I think we’re getting to a point where people are in agreement about what our approach to sponsors are, and I think that’s very important. We’re avoiding multiple people within the organization going to the same sponsors, which I thought made us look disorganized. Now it looks more like we have a system down and makes us feel more professional.

What is your vision for national APAMSA?
My vision for APAMSA is for it to become an organization where it’s not just focused on a single community, but on the Asian American community as a whole. To talk to others and bring in other opinions and even get through cultural barriers is important. I know there are real differences between those communities, but there are so many shared experiences and things we could learn from one another.

At the 2017 Region VI Conference

What do you think the most pressing APA health issue?
I think the most pressing apa health issue is the lack of communication between different generations and different Asian American communities. Like, for example, different generations have different thoughts on eastern vs western medicine. I wish there was more communication between the two. Like depression I think the younger generation has a better grasp on, but it’s not something that’s limited to the younger generation. I had a friend who’s a 3rd year and he was talking about this older Asian American gentleman who wasn’t taking his medicine even though he knew all the benefits and would rather drink ginseng tea instead. I think instead of us as a doctor going to speak to them, it’s better if a family member talks to them because they’re more likely to look to family members than doctors, unfortunately. If we keep dividing our resources and efforts to individual, communities it will reach less people than if we look to the Asian American community as a whole.

More broadly, what do you think is the biggest problem with healthcare today?
So I think healthcare is a human right, but I think the biggest issue is figuring out how to give people this right in the most fair and economically feasible way. I don’t know if that makes sense, it’s a very broad idea, but I’ll leave it at that.

So if you weren’t pursuing medicine, what do you think you’d be doing?
I would probably be doing something with health policy. I’m very interested in stuff like population health, like how certain laws, ideas, or economies change how people receive or take or not take healthcare. It’s really interesting because even the smallest of things that people don’t think are related to healthcare, actually are. For example, the budget on agriculture or sugar or the EPA all influence health in one way or another. It’s really interesting to see the connections, even if they’re vague in some ways and vary in significance.

At Milwaukee China Lights festival

What’s the last book you read?
Hmmm it’s been a while, I think it’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Oh, they’re making a tv show for that right?
Yeah! I wanna see it so bad. I love books like that, like 1984, brave new heart
Brave new world?
Oh, yeah brave new world haha sorry. Cuckoo’s nest, just like I love the utopia books an-
You mean dystopia?
Ahaha yeah, whoops.
I mean, it’s ok if you feel those are your ideas of utopias…
It makes me feel like a depressing person liking these books, but you can really learn a lot from them.

What book would you recommend everyone read?
Ok I’ll do a fun one since all my favorites were depressing. I’d recommend The Martian. Especially if you like science and stuff, it’s a really great book. I like how it blends science and fiction. Lots of people think of science as some abstract, intangible thing, but in this book it makes it seem more grounded and I enjoyed that about this book.

What’s a first world problem you’re dealing with?
The balance of time needed to go to the grocery store and studying. I haven’t gone to the grocery store in like 2 weeks and I’m like out of food but I have to study. I’m sitting here thinking if I can last another day without going to the grocery store. I’m like living off of freeze-dried food right now.
You’re really taking that Martian stuff to heart
Well a lot of the Asian food available here is freeze dried, so it’s like that kind of stuff.

What tv shows are you watching?
I’m too busy to watch tv shows, but I’m a dedicated viewer of buzzfeed’s “worth it” videos. It’s like two guys going to restaurants at different price points and picking what they think is most worth it. I’m dedicated to it, they’re 10 minute videos, and I watch on 2x speed.
Like lectures
I can’t watch videos in regular speed anymore.

example of "friends"

What can you not live without?
........ ok
Family, friends, food, etc. But seriously, sunlight! Once I spent one weekend with the blinds closed, just locked myself in to study and I just went crazy.
I mean, you could have opened the blinds?
I could have… but it was a cloudy day anyway, it was one of those horrible days in Wisconsin where it was just not good to go outside and you just stay inside. So I just didn’t leave the house for the whole weekend and I realized I just couldn’t do it again. So now I study in the library by a window.


If you could choose anyone in the world to make you dinner, who would it be?
Anyone in the world? My mom.
Awwww, what would she make?
So in korea there’s this dish with thinly sliced radishes and arranged around it like the sun there’s thinly sliced egg, cucumber, carrots, and beef. You put it in a wrap and eat it. So whenever I come home she always makes it for me. I’ll send you a picture [insert picture here] . Everytime she comes home she makes that, a soup that I really like, and she always makes Korean barbeque. And homemade kbbq is better than the restaurant stuff and it’s like a gathering for my family so it’s like an event. All these little things make it that.

the dish mentioned above

What would you like to tell the members of APAMSA?
I would tell them, no matter what you’re doing, it doesn’t even have to be apamsa stuff, just be proud of what you’re doing, what you have done, and what you’ve accomplished, because even though it might not seem much to you, like checking bp for a few people, it’s a lot to them. What you’re doing really is making a difference.

Thank you, Junne, for taking the time to talk with us! If you have any ideas or want to talk sponsorship, you can get in touch with her at

Advice from APAMSA alumni for Match Day

We hope you’ll keep in touch and remember that wherever you go, your APAMSA family will always support you!
Former APAMSA National president Kevin Riutzel has some advice for your next few days:

Are you excited?? Nervous??? A mess????? You should be!!!! You’ve put so much time, money, and effort into trying to get to the next stage of this medical marathon, and it really is draining. However, take a moment to realize YOU’VE MADE IT THROUGH MEDICAL SCHOOL!!!!!!!! That is something you can always look back on and say, “Wow. I really can do anything.”

As you wait for the golden e-mail/notification that lets you know where you will live for the next 3+ years of your life, please go into match day satiated with knowledge that you will be a resident physician. Period. The match system can sometimes set people up for disappointment on match day should they not get their #1 pick. If you don’t get your #1 pick, great!! You still matched!!! Look forward to the fact that starting July, you will be making decisions as part of a team that can truly heal people – people who are looking to you for help and guidance at possibly their bleakest hour.

As part of the APAMSA family, please don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me for tips regarding intern year or if you just need a place to crash when you visit Disneyland. Again, congrats on all your hard work and stand proud of your achievements, doctor!!!!

Kevin Riutzel
Former National APAMSA President


Wherever you go and whatever you do, we wish you the best of luck!
Our former APAMSA National vice president would like to wish you all well:

Congratulations to you all for being done with interviews and submitting your rank lists! As you all mentally prepare for Match Day, I want you to know that even though you may not feel it right now, that everything that will happen on Match Day and after happens for a reason. I will admit at this time last year, I was feeling very nervous simply not knowing what to expect. I still vividly remember waking up on Match Day not knowing if I was going to be in the South, Northeast, West Coast, or Midwest for residency. But looking back on it almost one year later as I’ve had the chance to settle in and bond with my fellow residents, I realize that it was meant to be that I ended up at UMiami for residency even though I did not feel that way at the time. So my two cents to you all as you anxiously await Match Day is to keep your mind off of Match Day as much as possible; the rank list is in so do something you enjoy whether it’s going out for a run, watching Netflix or enjoying Mardi Gras (as a former NOLA resident) to keep your mind off of the rank list since you can’t change anything! Also just try to keep things in perspective, while it’s a big step, it’s not the end all of the world, residency will fly by fast and next thing you know you’ll be applying for fellowship or a job. And most importantly, please enjoy every moment of 4th year! As someone going through intern year, appreciate the free time and make the most of this time to pursue something out of your life bucket list–whether it’s traveling abroad or trying to run a marathon or doing a cross country road trip through every state, you won’t have this kind of time for quite awhile!

You all will do great and I truly wish you all the best in the next phase of your journey!

Robert Hsu
Former National APAMSA Vice President


It looks like you’re at the point in your career where you may be entering the Match this year! National APAMSA would like to pass on a message from an alumni that has been in your shoes –

Congratulations on entering the Match! It is a humbling and exciting time of your life and it feels like your entire life led up to this decision. Just remember, no matter where you go and what you do, you will have the honor of being part of many individual’s most vulnerable situations and have the chance to help make a difference. You will do great in any program as long as you open your arms and heart to everyone around you. Around this time last year, I felt a sense of calm after having gone through years of learning and sacrifices with tears and smiles. You will be happy, too. Remember to congratulate your friends, give people hugs, and smile: you’re going to be a doctor! Even if your parents may or may not understand, they are proud. You are amazing! Have a lovely Match Day and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

Warm regards,

Lindy Zhang, MD

Pediatric Resident, PGY-1
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
APAMSA Region I Director 2014-2015

2017 Region VI Conference at MCW Recap

On February 4th, the 2017 Region VI conference was hosted by the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI.

The conference opened with a few words from APAMSA national president Ruey Hu, who invited students to explore cultural differences in health perception and what it means to be a part of APAMSA.

Presentations began with keynote speaker Dr. B Li, co-founder of National APAMSA, who shared his own personal experience with the difficulties of securing a bone marrow transplant for his own wife. Dr. Li discussed the stress, grief, and devastating consequences that were a reflection of the health disparities in the Asian-American population. Although many conference attendees were already a part of the bone marrow registry, Dr. Li’s touching story inspired many more attendees (17) to register for the National Bone Marrow Registry.

With that, Dr. Kathleen Yang-Clayton, a former deputy director of Asian-Americans Advancing Justice, spoke on advocacy through examining the needs of the community within a broader political and civil context. In highlighting the value of teamwork not only within the Asian-American community but also with other minority groups, Dr. Yang-Clayton reminded us that we all play a larger role in the fight for minority rights.

While Dr. Yang-Clayton inspired us to look beyond the Asian-American community, Dr. Xa Xiong emphasized the need to look within it. Dr. Xiong is one of six total Hmong physicians in the state of Wisconsin and explained that even within the Asian-American community, the Hmong population has been overlooked in many areas, including healthcare. In order to bridge this gap, Dr. Xiong spoke on Hmong culture and the need to be culturally competent.

After lunch, breakout sessions were held and included topics on: Herbal Medicinal Use with the Hmong (Dr. Kajua Lor), Patient Advocacy and Policy and Legislative Involvement (Dr Clarence Chou), Global Health Efforts in South Asia (Dr. D Kim), Spiritualism and Hmong Health Beliefs (Dr. Kajua Lor), Succeeding in Wards as an Asian-American (Dr. B Li), Importance of Context in Asian-American Mental Health (Dr. Seeba Anam), Strategies for Effective Medical Lecturing (Dr. Carlyle Chan) as well as presentations from the National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians (Dr. Suhaila Khan, Dr. Ho Luong Tran, Dr. Dextor Louie). In addition, we welcomed a pre-medical panel hosted by MCW Dean Dawn Bragg, MCW Assistant Dean Jane Machi, Dr. Xa Xiong, and MCW medical students.

The day concluded with a panel of physicians including Dr. Carlyle Chan, Dr. Clarence Chou, Dr. Seeba Anam, Dr. Xa Xiong, and Dr. B Li who openly discussed the advancements and challenges in mental health, advocacy, health inequalities, and cultural sensitivities in the AAPI community.

We would like to thank all of our speakers, attendees, volunteers, and sponsors on making the 2017 Region VI Conference a valuable experience. We hope to continue advocating for the health of the AAPI community and cultivating more knowledgeable and motivated healthcare providers through these APAMSA events.

Find all photos here on our Facebook page! 

SUNY Upstate Medical University APAMSA Update – Lunar New Year Gala

On January 27, 2017 the APAMSA chapter of State University of New York Upstate Medical University hosted the New Year Gala. 

In collaboration with the Upstate chapter of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, we hosted the Lunar New Year Gala at Upstate Medical University during the eve of Lunar New Year. Taking place at a time traditionally spent with close family, we shared this time with the Upstate community, friends, and family to foster cultural understanding. The event included dinner, cultural performances, and a video from Upstate Administration speaking about their experiences and understanding of the holiday. The gala exhibited traditional performances including a lion dance and a handkerchief dance, with guest performers from Syracuse University demonstrating Korean drumming. Over 100 students, faculty, and administrators from all the colleges at Upstate came together this night to celebrate the importance of family, tradition and culture of the APAI community and people of Asian heritage.