Senior Profile/David Wang Heads to Medical School, Aims to Maintain Work-Life Balance

Issue Date: 
April 4, 2012
David WangDavid Wang

Armed with two undergraduate degrees and a love of medicine, David Wang is poised to begin the second phase of his academic life.

Wang graduates today with a 3.99 GPA, a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from Pitt’s University Honors College, and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and applied mathematics from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

This fall, he will begin medical school at one of two Ivy League universities, both of which have offered him full scholarships.

“It is a difficult decision, but it’s absolutely a win-win situation for me in that both schools offer elite programs that will help further my goals,” said Wang, who wants to become a general practitioner. “I am most looking forward to having daily one-on-one interactions with patients and working together with them to find ways to help.”

Medicine has been a mainstay of Wang’s adult life; since his freshman year at Pitt, he has volunteered at UPMC Montefiore and UPMC Presbyterian hospitals. He also has shadowed numerous doctors in UPMC’s Emergency Trauma Center, Cardiovascular Institute, and Hillman Cancer Center.

And he has impressed his professors and others along the way.

“He’s just a wonderful student and a splendid person in every way,” observed Toby M. Chapman, Wang’s organic chemistry instructor and a faculty member within the Pitt-UPMC McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “Rarely do you get that combination of both personality and brilliance, but David has all of that. Moving forward, he will be very successful in his pursuits.”

Wang pursues even small activities with gusto. Take, for example, the ping-pong league that he began in the fall of 2009, the first semester of his freshman year. An avid ping-pong enthusiast, Wang decided to organize a tournament for students in the Honors residence hall.

“The idea started out as a couple of friends getting together for a few friendly games,” Wang said with a coy smile. “I guess it kind of took on a life of its own from there.”

Before long, a “couple of friends” became more than 40—meticulously organized by Wang into eight divisions within two conferences. A “few friendly games,” became a semesterlong regular season complete with a playoff-style tournament at the end, with Wang serving as the League’s unofficial commissioner. Wang would go on to win that tournament; it would be the first of his many triumphs at Pitt.

Born in China, Wang and his parents immigrated to Toronto when he was 5 years old, and they moved to Pittsburgh in 2000. Wang graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School, and he came to Pitt on a University Honors College full-tuition scholarship. He has made the Dean’s List every semester.

Wang’s most recent honors include a 2011 Brackenridge Research Fellowship, a 2011 James V. Harrison Undergraduate Research Award, and a 2010 Rita R. and David A. Rossi Sr. Scholarship, which is awarded to only three Pitt chemistry majors a year. In addition, Wang has received a 2010 University Scholarship, which is chosen from the top 2 percent of Pitt undergraduate seniors, and a Laura E. Elden Education Trust Scholarship.

Wang also received a 2011 honorable mention for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. For the University Honors College’s 25th Anniversary Celebration earlier this semester, he was selected to be one of the “25 Students for 25 Years” profiled in the anniversary program.

Wang is quick to say that his life does not begin and end in the classroom, however. Personal relationships, for instance, are of tremendous significance to him.

“Daily interactions with my girlfriend, with my friends, and with the people in my life outside of the lab are an extremely vital part of who I am,” Wang said. “Whenever I find that I am sacrificing time with the people who are important to me personally, I definitely take steps back, and I get my priorities back in order.”

A self-described sports fanatic, his television can be found most often tuned to ESPN. Wang also has been a common sight on the Cathedral of Learning lawn, playing anything from ultimate Frisbee to soccer. He is also an accomplished pianist and violinist. In 2007, he was a cowinner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Young Artists Auditions competition, performing in recital as a pianist, and he was soloist in the Grieg Piano Concerto with the Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestra.

Wang’s hobbies and nonacademic pursuits help him maintain the proper balance for a 21-year-old college graduate seeking to embark upon a serious professional career that will allow him to make significant contributions to the world around him.