Hillary Lin – President of Stanford Premedical Association & External Liaison of Taiwanese Cultural Society

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Who are you?

I was born in Taipei and I lived in Chia-Yi until I was five. I then lived in Stony Brook, NY (the land of not many Taiwanese people) until I came to Stanford (the land of very many Taiwanese people), and I still visit Taiwan often. I sincerely hope to bring others into the folds of Taiwanese culture because it is so rich and amazing. I am an aspiring physician, a senior at Stanford, and I love pearl milk tea. I grew up playing the violin and piano, and I would read as many as three novels a day (I was obsessed). I may sound like your average Taiwanese American, but I hope to prove that even the average Taiwanese American can be unique.

My road to the person I am today didn’t come without struggle. Not struggles against hardships (while there were some, I consider myself lucky) but rather against tradition. I never really liked being the average Taiwanese American, and wanted to break free of the seeming mediocrity. I denied wanting to be a doctor and sought the farthest possible career path (the best I could come up with was science research), but in the end, as you see, there was no running away from the draw of medicine.

Future career aside, I have plenty of interests that set me apart! My favorite artist is Jay Chou, and I have a small – very small – crazed obsession with K-pop. I spend hours each day… studying and working to tell the truth, but I place sleep near the top of my priority list (I get my seven hours a night, from 12-7 AM – the fact that I am up at 12:23 AM writing this I hope shows my love for Taiwan).

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I am President of the Stanford Premedical Assocation (SPA). SPA is a group of premedical students providing every single resource a premedical student could possibly want or need, and having a lot of contacts for other organizations in case we happen to miss something. We bring physicians to campus, students to physician’s homes (and pay for everyone’s dinner), residents away from the operating room (for panels and workshops), and pre-meds to the operating room (not as patients).

I am also the External Liaison for the Taiwanese Cultural Society (TCS). Through food, through panels, and through movies, we aim to spread our frontier past Stanford and even the Bay Area. Some of our recent events include having Will Tiao, the producer of Formosa Betrayed, come give a talk, as well as our annual Night Market that showcases all of Stanford’s Asian culture groups.

My extracurriculars reflect my interests broadly, and being active as a member and leader allows me to share these interests with others. Saying I am part of SPA or TCS gives me a way to show others who I am in a short summary. It helps also to keep my non-academic side alive in the face of problem sets and exams.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

So in the beginning, I decided to be the leader because I had a little bit of a control freak in me and I didn’t quite like how things were running in (enter name here) organization. I proceeded to plot my take-over of every club I belonged to. I got too busy in the middle of the execution to carry out the full plan, but I made some good progress.

But now that I have become a leader, I have discovered the benefits of allowing everyone involved take their own little portion of control. It seems that other people are control freaks as well, and simply cannot be motivated to do their jobs unless they have some autonomy. Plus, it makes work easier. So I recommend the delegation of work to reliable individuals in your group (key word is reliable – Stanford students are unbelievably unreliable around midterms, which is every week after the third week). On that note, schedule most events at the beginning of the quarter (or semester) unless you have a nice, regular exam schedule that you can plan around.

And have fun! I am advising myself as I write this, but extracurricular groups are a great way to burn off a few IQ points and stress wrinkles. Those late night boba runs I never participate in because I need to sleep by midnight are really wonderful for refueling. Even in a crowd of premeds, you find that commiseration invites not only complaints but also new buddies.

Finally, if you’re not a student leader yet – it is really worth all the work. In the end, you get this great sense of pride and ownership over a project or organization, and hopefully you’ve done a few people some real good. I highly recommend it.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I hope to see the future of Taiwanese America be the most awesome cultural community in the U.S.! I know that is very specific.

Really, I hope to see other Taiwanese Americans find their truth in life – true friends, true family, true culture, and even true (does this fit?) career. I know that when people think of “dream careers,” they like thinking of artistic professions. Actors, singers, dancers, and entertainers are great! But I know there are many out there who might be going through what I went through – thinking really far out of the box and taking a long time to figure out they actually do want to be doctors or engineers. And really, we need more doctors and engineers in this world, so you’re certainly not doing any harm going down that path if it’s your dream.

So yes, I’d like to see Taiwanese America as a massive group of physicians and engineers speckled with some artists here and there. Then, by adopting other people (because I hear the birth rate in Taiwan is the lowest in the world – not sure if Taiwanese Americans are doing much better), we can incorporate millions of others and become a superpower culture. I’m joking, but that would be very funny.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My favorite Taiwanese food is o7-a2 chian1 (I hope I spelled that right). It’s just not made the same way in the U.S., unfortunately.

My favorite drink is actually not strictly pearl milk tea (I secretly do not like the little boba balls) – it’s actually lemon honey green tea with ai2-yu2 jelly. In Taiwan I like the similar shaved ice with lemon juice and ai2-yu2. I can’t tell you if there’s a proper name for that, but it’s delicious.

Links to my organizations
Stanford Taiwanese Cultural Society: http://taiwanese.stanford.edu
Stanford Premedical Association: http://premed.stanford.edu
Stanford Immersion in Medicine Series: http://sims.stanford.edu
Pacific Free Clinic: http://pacific.stanford.edu

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