Senior Spotlight: Johnny Wang embraces life at Rice
Johnny Wang did not know much about Rice when he applied Early Decision. According to the Lovett College senior, he didn’t visit campus or speak with any current or former students before applying. What he did know were two things: one, that he wanted to pursue medicine, and two, that he had heard Rice was a great place for pre-meds.
“I always knew that I wanted to do medicine, and I had heard a lot of great things [about Rice],” Wang said. “One of my family friends at the time was a college counselor, so she gave us a lot of information and pointed out how Rice is a great place for pre-meds with a lot of opportunities to get involved in research and working in hospitals.”
Wang said that since arriving on campus, he has found opportunities to integrate his extracurricular interests with skills that are helpful for a future career in medicine. He is currently the Head Rice Health Advisor at Lovett.
“It’s been cool to work with the Wellbeing Center and work with RHAs at other colleges and try to make a difference,” Wang said. “Being an RHA has shown me different things about leadership and what it takes to lead a team and build connections with the right people to get stuff done.”
Wang has also been involved in Design For America, where he used design thinking to solve problems for nonprofit organizations in Houston. According to Wang, stepping outside the Rice community and tackling real-world issues provided him with skills that apply to his interest in medical research.
“[Design consulting] is really valuable particularly when it comes to innovating and finding new techniques or developing new technologies within medicine,” Wang said. “Having that kind of mindset of collaboration and thinking outside the box has been valuable for me.”
Wang said that outside his pre-med activities, he values a work-life balance that gives him time for his personal life and diverse hobbies.
“I’m someone who really values that balance, which is interesting because I want to do medicine and I want to do surgery, [and that’s] not completely conducive to having a personal life,” Wang said.
Wang said he has always enjoyed reading and writing. He came into Rice as a Biochemistry and English double major but switched to Biosciences with a Cell Biology and Genetics concentration, dropping the English major.
“I took a few English classes at Rice, and I realized it wasn’t super sustainable for me,” Wang said. “I didn’t feel like it could fit in with my other goals, particularly with being pre-med, with having to take those pre-med classes and wanting to be involved with research and other obligations.”
Though he has focused on his pre-med activities, Wang said he has always been very interested in art in different forms.
“I’m a big movie fan [and] TV fan. I try to go to different showings at museums whenever I can,” Wang said.
Wang’s other hobbies include playing basketball in the rec four to five times per week and cooking Korean food for his girlfriend. Despite the stress of his pre-med career, he said he has found joy in the little things in everyday life.
“Recently, I’ve been enjoying [the small things] more, like walking by Brochstein or just sitting in Brochstein and reading a book … or walking by Skyspace and thinking, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool,’” Wang said.
Wang is deciding between the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis for medical school. He said it is not so much getting into these schools that has made him proud, but his perseverance through a process with a stigma that makes some pre-meds lose faith in their efforts.
“You hear people constantly tell you, ‘Oh, it’s so hard. I know people who are so, so smart, and they get rejected everywhere and end up being a nurse.’ Not that there’s anything wrong with being a nurse. There’s just this stigma,” Wang said. “Still believing in myself and believing in that process even though it wasn’t ever guaranteed and there was so much uncertainty at certain points, still having that faith … was really important to me,” Wang said.
According to Wang, Rice is ultimately a place full of opportunities that can be maximized so long as people take advantage of everything it has to offer.
“Rice presents a lot of opportunities that at first might not seem entirely available or open to you, but I would say it’s important to trust the process and embrace it,” Wang said. “Embrace the school, embrace your teachers, mentors … friends … the people all around you, and believe that good things will come from that.”
More from The Rice Thresher
All five students I approached outside Brochstein Pavilion last Saturday had the same answer to my question. Had they heard of the Rice Revolutionary Marxist Students? Nope, not really.
While most universities have student resident assistants overseeing housing, Rice’s culture is defined by its rare residential college system, which features adult magisters and resident advisors. Lovett College’s current magisters, Mike Gustin and Denise Klein, are finishing their last year in the role.
Those who walk near the Ralph S. O’Connor Building for Engineering and Science may hear the faint droning noise of machinery coming from the Central Plant, one of Rice’s two power plants that provide energy and water to the campus. Through the maze of pipes, wires and metal structures stands a fence door guarding one of the Rice’s lifelines — a water well.