Meet Medical student Karen Mu
Where did you grow up and complete your undergraduate studies?
My father was in the U.S. foreign service, so we lived all over the world. I grew up as an expatriate in Japan, Korea, Belgium, the Ivory Coast and Canada, though I spent all of my summers in San Francisco. My father grew up there, and he wanted our family to have a better sense of permanence and community. For my undergraduate work, I went to the University of Washington in Seattle, where I earned degrees in music, piano performance and neurobiology.
Why did you choose to study medicine?
Even before becoming pre-med, I was very involved in my local community – as a day-camp leader for inner-city youth in San Francisco Chinatown, making rice cakes for the homeless in Tokyo, playing piano at an AIDS hospice in Seattle, and as a day care manager for special-needs children. When I became a neurobiology major, I discovered my interest in science, which further developed while working in an HIV lab at the Centers for Disease Control in the Ivory Coast. I made the decision to combine my community work with my interest in science by pursuing medicine. It seemed like a natural fit. I'm set to graduate in May from the M.D./Ph.D. program. This program has allowed me to earn both an M.D. degree and a Ph.D. degree in comparative pathology.
What is the best thing about the School of Medicine?
The student-run clinics are wonderful. I was a co-director of the Imani clinic in 2003 and continued my work there for several years, during which time I developed my clinical skills and was able to serve the local Oak Park community. That work kept alive my interest in caring for underserved populations, which is why I've now chosen to pursue psychiatry with the same goals. In addition, at UC Davis I have been very fortunate to have wonderful mentors in Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah, Dr. Hilary Brodie and Dr. Hendry Ton. Their guidance has been instrumental in both my personal and professional development.
What's new in your life today?
I'm getting married in June. My fiancé is a high school teacher, and we're both working in the community in different ways. As you might imagine, this is a very exciting time in my life!
Spring / Summer 2010
UC Davis Health System is proud to be home to medical, nursing, family nurse practitioner / physician assistant, public health and health informatics students and to also be the internship site for pharmacy, nutrition and other programs. Improving the health of our communities requires that we bring together these perspectives, and UC Davis is well positioned to do so.