Justin Chu (Class of 2015)

  • junior double major in Biochemistry and Zoology, with a Premedical Studies co-major and minors in Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics
  • from Dayton, OH
  • President of Miami MED, a pre-medical student organization that brings speakers and career opportunities to campus
  • volunteers at McCullough-Hyde Hospital and for Big Brothers Big Sisters
I've participated in a couple different research labs on campus … because I find doing research a lot of fun … Doing a combination of undergraduate research and classwork makes me feel more adjusted to the typical workday I'll be experiencing in the future—that's how I see it.

Why Miami?

"I chose Miami not only because of its legacy and tradition, but also because of its reputation for preparing students for post-undergraduate work. These were things that really stuck out to me, and on my visit here I fell in love with the campus. From there it was a pretty easy decision.

"My first year here was a lot of fun. I really learned a lot about myself, my maturity level, and responsibilities—being on my own was different for me, so it was an important growth period during which I also just enjoyed myself. Being from Dayton, I felt like Miami was the perfect distance from home, so I could have my own time here but could always go back home and visit family or get some things if needed.

"I always knew I wanted to go into the sciences, but at Miami there are still a lot of majors to choose from within that broad range. I know that some students change their majors a few times before they decide, but I came in with biochemistry and stayed with it from the start. At the end of my sophomore year I added zoology. Being in the honors program gives me more flexibility to add a second major because I don't have to take typical Miami Plan classes. I was pretty far ahead of the game for my Biochemistry major, and I didn't want to graduate early because I love it here, so I decided to tack on the Zoology major. Later on, I also added a co-major in Premedical Studies and a minor in Molecular Biology!"

Best Miami Experiences

"I like how everyone gets along in my classes, which have always been a lot of fun. As serious as school is, we still enjoy studying together and learning—there's always a lot of teamwork. I love all my professors. You can tell they're all really genuine, especially my chemistry research professor, David Tierney. He's been really helpful for me, and I've taken his classes since I was a freshman so we've developed a close relationship. I've kept in contact with a lot of my other professors, thanking them for the classes they've taught and for their support in some internships I've had. In fact, just recently I stopped by the office of Heeyoung Tai, one of my old biochemistry professors, just to say thank you. Her biochemistry class was by far my favorite of all I've ever taken in my education, not just at Miami. She was a great teacher who clearly loves her job!

Justin Chu at the grill

"I've also participated in a couple different research labs on campus, one in the Department of Biology with Haifei Shi, and another in the Department of Kinesiology with Helaine Alessio. I go to these labs in between and after classes, so they fill those gaps nicely and don't feel like work or class because I find doing research a lot of fun. These experiences are definitely preparing me for a career in medicine, as I know the work I put into them will reflect in the results. Doing a combination of undergraduate research and classwork makes me feel more adjusted to the typical workday I'll be experiencing in the future—that's how I see it.

"Outside the classroom, my best times at Miami are typically just those weekend nights hanging out with friends and putting school on the backburner for a while—just enjoying being a college student."

Miami and Liberal Arts Education

"In my view, liberal arts classes prepare you better for the real world than others do. I've taken classes outside of the College of Arts and Science and felt there was a difference in their structure. Having two majors in the liberal arts gives me the opportunity to take more classes in different subjects that I find interesting—it's how I discovered my interest in kinesiology. It's different from the typical in-depth science courses I've taken, and I think exercise science and sports medicine offer a broader perspective, one I want more exposure in so that I'm not too focused on just one thing. I'm interested in sports medicine as a physician, and it is something that I enjoy learning about while I'm here at Miami because I think my education in the field here can go a long way.

"Liberal arts also gives me more time and opportunities to take part in science labs, both as part of coursework and outside of class. I was a big fan of my organic chemistry lab (CHM 254H). My classmates were great, the TAs were great, the professor was great, and we had a lot of fun with all the experiments we did. We made a lot of different organic compounds. At first I thought I would be more intimidated by organic chemistry, so it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered how fun it was.

"The atmosphere in my labs has been really upbeat. In a lecture you often just sit there and take in the information, but in labs you're actually applying what you learned, and it's fascinating to learn about how certain chemical reactions work. For example, we studied about the Wolff-Kishner Reduction and how the mechanism works in class, but actually applying it in lab and seeing how all of the instruments and procedures work was really cool. This is the kind of thing that makes the lab environment so much more dynamic than a typical classroom. I really enjoy the hands-on kind of learning the most, and for me, being in the liberal arts has given me a lot of opportunities like that."

Leadership and Volunteering Experiences

Justin Chu and a colleague at MED Fair 2013 photo

"I am the president of Miami MED (Medical Education Development), which is a pre-med organization we have on campus. It's pretty selective, as we have a GPA requirement. We bring in a lot of physicians to speak to our group on campus, we do volunteer work, and we host Miami's MED Fair every year for pre-med students who want to meet with representatives from regional healthcare institutions. Last fall's MED Fair had almost 200 people show up, so that really increases the visibility of our presence on campus as we prepare students for health professions after college. Our next MED Fair in the new Armstrong Student Center is going to be even bigger, with over 300 students so far planning to attend!

"I also do some volunteering, both at McCullough-Hyde Hospital here in Oxford and also in Big Brothers Big Sisters with some elementary schools in the area. Big Brothers Big Sisters is especially a lot of fun. Our group of Miami students play sports with the kids for the first hour and then do a variety of crafts and board games with them in their classrooms. I love interacting with the kids—they're just great. I also do a lot of events with Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, in which we're involved with the Best Buddies organization in both Hamilton and Butler counties and have special events like the Best Buddies Walk, bowling, and going to Miami basketball games.

"Overall, I'm really thankful for everything Miami has given me, all the doors the school has opened, and all the learning experiences I've gained as a student here. It's really helped me mature and be more responsible, and I feel I've received a lot of guidance and support in determining how I want to be going forward. There's a lot of things that I'll always be grateful to Miami for!

[September 2013]