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Henry Chou

Henry Chou

Radiology Resident

Indiana University School of Medicine

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"I interned at Eli Lilly for two summers performing organic chemistry research & spent one summer performing biochemistry research at the IU School of Medicine. I was involved with Purdue Science Student Council & Timmy Foundation, through which I improved my communication & organization skills. I probably learned just as much through my extracurricular activities as I did in the classroom. Medical schools value initiative & volunteerism. They are looking to train not just clinicians, but future leaders & humanitarians."

What was your major/minor at Purdue and when did you graduate?

BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, minors in Asian Studies and Chemistry, 2007

What was your most compelling class and why?

My most compelling class was a freshman honors class taught by Dr. Brandt regarding third world diseases and bioethics. This was my first introduction to health care disparities and piqued my interest in getting more involved in medicine and global health. When I later learned about opportunities to travel abroad with medical professionals, I jumped at the opportunity. I likely would not have done so if it had not been for this course.

What drove you to pursue your current career path?

A series of unexpected but fortunate decisions drove me to my current career path. Having lofty dreams of designing awe-inspiring edifices since childhood, I applied to several universities to pursue architecture. After some belated discussion with my parents, I realized science or engineering would be a better fit, so I applied to Purdue after many schools had already closed their applications. Thinking I might pursue a career in research, I worked in several labs before changing my mind. I discovered I enjoyed medicine after traveling abroad with the Timmy Foundation and shadowing several physicians in the Lafayette area. In medical school, radiology was nowhere on my radar until a friend suggested I give it a second look. I took a radiology elective and loved it, just in time to start applying for residency.

Was there one person at Purdue who shifted the course of your career?

I was lucky to take classes with Dr. Karl Brandt before his retirement. He taught both my third world diseases course and biochemistry. A compelling educator and philosopher, he challenged his students to contemplate difficult questions (both biochemistry and otherwise) and to understand molecules and the world from novel viewpoints. He cared deeply about his students and was one of the first to provide me with actionable feedback as an awkward college freshman. He offered me a fresh glimpse into medicine and even helped me to improve my public speaking skills, which would prove invaluable in my future leadership positions.

What were you most afraid of when you were about to graduate?

For those with medical school in their sights, the excitement of embarking on your chosen career path will probably overwhelm all other emotions. At some point, the anticipation of sleepless nights and likely the lowest test scores of your educational career will set in. Just remember that you are not defined by your grades, medical school is a challenge for even the brightest students, and you will have terrific colleagues at your side to share the good times and bad.

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?

I decided to take a post-graduation Maymester study abroad elective. My academic advisor suggested this to me since she knew I enjoyed traveling and didn’t get a chance to study abroad before graduation. This was followed by a summer break that was entirely too short. Then bam! Medical school happened.

What are you currently working on?

I’m trying to get better at gardening. Oh, academically? In addition to the daily work of a radiology resident, which includes interpreting imaging studies, performing procedures, and finding free food, I’m also getting involved in radiology research and medical student education.

Can you think of any special accomplishments you've achieved after college that you might not have been able to do without your college experiences?

One of my proudest achievements was serving as the president of my medical school class. As a class officer, I helped organize events, met with administrators, solicited student input, and resolved conflicts. Without the experience gained from my leadership and volunteer activities from college, I would not have been as comfortable in this position or even considered applying for it.

What advice would you give prospective or current Purdue students about how to make the best use of what Purdue offers?

Have fun. Specifically, maintain your current pastimes while seeking out new ones. Purdue offers so many classes and student organizations that it’s easy to graduate with several new hobbies or interests. Also, work out, if you don’t include that under the heading of fun.

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