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Bringing Health Education to the Classroom and Community

When Norine Chan was at Stuyvesant High School exploring the best colleges for pre-med studies, she didn’t have to go far for expert advice.

Consider Hunter, said her mother, a Hunter librarian with direct knowledge not only of the school’s sterling reputation in the biological sciences and health professions, but also of Hunter’s Macaulay Honors College – which offers a four-year Brookdale dormitory experience.

Chan lived at Brookdale, majored in psychology, and worked for three years in Professor James Gordon’s Hunter lab studying visual pathways in the brain. “It was a joyful, rewarding experience,” she says. “Professor Gordon was a great mentor, and with the other team members, I felt like part of a family.”

Meanwhile, she was active in the extracurricular Peer Health Exchange, which trains college students nationwide to bring health education to high-school classrooms. Rising to the post of co-coordinator, Chan oversaw volunteers and worked closely with top staffers, developing her own leadership skills and learning all about public health.

She also volunteered with Weill Cornell Medicine’s Heart to Heart Community Outreach Campaign, helping conduct cardiovascular screenings in neighborhood clinics.  And in both Mount Sinai Hospital’s Care and Respect for the Elderly (CARE) Program and Brooklyn Hospital Center’s Emergency Department, she learned how to communicate effectively with older patients. Most recently, as a Sinai Research Associate, she screened Mount Sinai patients for participation in clinical studies. Through it all, she found time to fence as member of Hunter’s fencing team.

Looking ahead, Chan plans to earn two professional degrees – an MD and a master’s in public health. She wants to pursue emergency medicine, which offers constant variety, and public health, where she can contribute to policy reform and continue to engage in community education. 

She’ll spend her Fulbright year in Taiwan, a country she’s visited before. It’s where her mother lived until coming to the U.S. and meeting Chan’s father, a physical therapist born in Hong Kong.

The Fulbright project involves teaching English at a primary school, and Chan hopes to incorporate her love of creative writing and health education into her daily work. Her plans aren’t certain and her students will be young, but she’s considering open mics as one way to spark the children’s interest and participation.

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