After returning to the U.S., Trang plans to apply for a bioethics fellowship before pursuing a medical degree
Annie Trang, a University of Maryland senior who graduated in May 2019 with bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and philosophy, has been awarded a 2019-20 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Vietnam. Trang, who also received the Department of Philosophy’s 2019 W.E. Schlaretzki Prize for most outstanding senior, hopes to study bioethics and attend medical school in the future.
“Both my parents emigrated from Vietnam and they struggled to learn English in America,” said Trang, who speaks English, Vietnamese and Teochew, a dialect common in several regions of China and Southeast Asia. “Teaching English in Vietnam would enable me to pay forward all that my parents have done for me.”
In Vietnam, both of Trang’s parents dropped out of middle school to support their families. However, they remembered their teachers as dedicated people who would always help in times of need. Their stories stayed with Trang, who hopes to help her students in the same way.
Trang began honing her teaching skills at UMD. Starting in 2017, she served as an undergraduate learning assistant for BSCI 170: “Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology.” She also taught postbaccalaureate students through the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences’ Science in the Evening program.
“I love teaching because I love connecting with students and finding ways to get them interested in a subject,” Trang said. “For instance, many of the postbaccalaureate students I taught wanted to apply to medical school or graduate bioscience programs. I was able to show them how the work we were doing in class could apply to their future goals.”
In addition to teaching, Trang began volunteering in 2016 at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, Maryland. She frequently worked with patients who spoke unfamiliar languages, which taught Trang to observe voice intonation, body language and other cues to understand what patients needed. Trang shared her insights by providing training for other volunteers on how to approach patients with language barriers.
“I remember the surprise on an older man’s face when I was able to understand that he had chest pain after he explained his symptoms with gestures and minimal English,” Trang said. “That motivated me to become more open and receptive in all my conversations, because communication is not just about literal translations, but rather about cultivating relationships.”
A recipient of UMD’s Mark Sobel Jr. Endowed Scholarship for Undergraduate Students of the Sciences, Trang also thanked the Sobel family for mentoring her during her time at UMD.
“The Sobels welcomed me as if I was part of their family, which has been so motivating because I know that there’s someone there to support me,” Trang said. “In addition, thanks to the scholarship, I will be able to not only pursue my dream, but help others who do not have the same opportunities.”
During her Fulbright year, Trang hopes to volunteer with nonprofit health organizations in Vietnam. After she returns to the U.S., Trang plans to apply for a postbaccalaureate fellowship in bioethics at the National Institutes of Health before pursuing a medical degree. Ultimately, she hopes to have a career in medical education or global health.
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