Hiroe Hu

Hiroe Hu graduated from the IB Diploma Programme (DP) at the Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan and continued her studies at Brown University, Rhode Island, USA, completing degrees in chemical engineering and contemplative psychology. She is currently conducting research at University of California San Francisco before her final year of medical school at Touro University California, USA.

Why did you originally decide to pursue an IB diploma?

I went to an international school in Japan, so the DP was readily available for motivated students. The IB diploma not only helped me get into Brown University, my dream school, but also taught me how to create my own learning path. The humanistic courses that I took (English, bilingual Japanese, and visual arts) taught me to always look at the big picture and think outside the box, while the science courses trained me to be rigorous and disciplined when learning new concepts. These skills have served me very well in college and beyond.

Which of your IB teachers inspired you most?

I am now a fourth-year medical student, so I feel obligated to mention one of my science teachers (lol)! I, however, was most inspired by my IB English teacher. As an ESL student, I never felt confident or engaged in English class until Mr Lucas taught me that English literature isn’t just about grammar and sentence structures; it is about learning how people communicate their deepest emotions and experiences through their writing. It is ultimately about learning the human condition. Without Mr Lucas’ English class, I’m not sure if I would have arrived at my current path to becoming a psychiatrist!

How you reached where you are today?

My philosophy to scholarship is to rigorously investigate while staying true to my authentic self. At Brown, I started as a chemical engineering major. But mid-way during my undergraduate studies, I realized I loved learning about meditation and eastern philosophy so much that I ended up designing my own (second) major in contemplative psychology. After college, I took two years before medical school to work in scientific research labs while getting my yoga teacher certification.

In today’s society, it is important to learn concrete and credible skills, but I also advise that you should not be afraid of becoming a trail blazer!

In medical school, I worked as a biochemistry teaching assistant but also spearheaded a medical student wellness initiative. I am now taking a year off between my third and fourth year to do research in integrative medicine, pediatric psycho-oncology, and cross-cultural contemplative psychology. I always took the road(s) less traveled and learned unconventional things, while also training in traditional or orthodox disciplines. In today’s society, it is important to learn concrete and credible skills, but I also advise that you should not be afraid of becoming a trail blazer! There is never just one single path.


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