What was the moment in your life when you realized you wanted to explore public service?
Sophomore year of college, as part of an initiative of my school’s refugee advocacy organization, I began coordinating a mentoring program for local high school students who come from refugee and asylum-seeking families. That was the first time I found myself applying the things I had learned in class and in service-learning organizations to problems in the surrounding city. To do public service in a considerate and critical way is really hard and really fulfilling, which is why I’m drawn to it. So far, as an undergrad, I’ve loved being able to work with, connect with, and make friends with really great people in communities outside of my college sphere.
What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are you looking forward to the most in your position?
I’m interning with the USDA Rural Development office in Richmond, Virginia. Specifically, I’m working with the Summer Food Service Programs that are coordinated out of the multi-family housing properties overseen by Rural Development. I’m acting as a liaison to the property managers, gathering information on best practices that can be used to improve the programs, both new and already-existing, as they expand to other locations in rural Virginia. With my graphic design and photography experience, I’m also creating promotional materials to get the word out about the programs so that community members are aware that these opportunities exist.
How does this internship help you with your professional goals? What do you want to get out of it?
I’m hoping to get my MD and Master’s and be involved in coordinating public health programs on either a federal or local level. This internship is really helping me to understand the issues that arise in rural areas and the kinds of solutions they call for, especially as health outcomes are inextricably tied to community development!
What is something that most people would not know about you?
I have a discoid lateral meniscus in my right knee, which just means that the meniscus is thicker and fuller than it is in most people, causing my knee to pop when I extend and flex my leg. It freaks people out when I first show it to them! Growing up, I thought this was something that everyone had. It’s actually most common in Asian populations (up to 20%) but is only found in 3% of the general population, which I think is cool.
When you get off work, what do you do? What are your weekend activities?
I cook, do some work for things at school, play my ukulele, maybe get ice cream. I’m looking forward to finding fun places to go hiking and take photographs.
What are you most excited to do in Richmond?
I’m excited to explore the restaurants and shops! I was very surprised to find that one of the judges of a cooking competition show I’ve been watching, a chef who was also a competitor on Top Chef, owns a restaurant that’s located just a couple minutes from where I’m staying this summer. As for D.C., there’s a vegan soul food place there that I really want to try!
Abigail Wang is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Neuroscience, Creative Writing, and Global Studies. In Pittsburgh, she has helped to develop a career and college preparation mentoring program for local youth who come from refugee or asylum-seeking families. Recently, she studied the effects of guiding these students, primarily of Bhutanese heritage, through English creative writing workshops in order to strengthen student self-efficacy and their articulation of personal histories. A researcher studying the mechanisms of obsessive-compulsive disorder from a psychiatric neuroscience perspective, she is also interested in the cultural confounds of mental illness, thought, and emotion, especially as they apply to those who live across multiple cultures, such as Asian immigrants and refugees. She is therefore enthusiastic about critical and community-based service learning as an approach to parsing the challenges of sustainable development work. She enjoys writing poetry and creative nonfiction that explore questions of identity and culture, or alternatively, taking photos of food and people.
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Posted by Felicia Wong
Felicia Wong is currently a senior at the College of William and Mary, double majoring in Neuroscience and Asian American Studies, and minoring in Biochemistry. She is president of the Filipino American Student Association, and current non-academic projects include creating films calling for diversity curriculums/requirements and establishing an official APIA Studies program. Felicia was also elected president of Global Medical Brigades to lead a sustainable healthcare program in rural communities in Nicaragua. She hopes to connect her interests in healthcare with the community she has found in her cultural background. Having lived in Germany for most of her childhood, Felicia makes yearly trips back to visit her family, providing opportunities for her to indulge in her greatest joys: touring castles, eating at cafés, taking fashion cues from strangers, cooking with her family. Non country-specific pleasures include: biking, watching live music performances, screaming because Game of Thrones.