Father's illness helped put a career in medicine in focus for medical studies grad


College of Health Solutions graduate Darrel Wang jogging on an outdoor trail.

College of Health Solutions graduate Darrel Wang, an Air Force veteran and former track and field athlete, is planning to attend medical school. Photo courtesy Darrel Wang

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Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.

When asked for advice for those still in school, Arizona State University College of Health Solutions graduate Darrel Wang said, “The end is nothing, the road is all.”

Those are appropriate sentiments from someone who has served in the U.S. Air Force, been a professional track and field athlete, co-founded a scholarship fund and started his own business — all while in his 20s. Wang is looking forward to the next phase as he has earned a Bachelor of Science in medical studies.

He said he knew he wanted to be a physician since he was a child, but didn’t focus on how he would get there until his father became ill.

“I lived a very exciting life, having spent time as a professional athlete and a military operator,” Wang said. “The skills I developed while on those pursuits were able to contribute to my work ethic and, ultimately, my academic performance.”

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: There was no "aha" moment in my life. I knew since I was a child that becoming a physician was going to be my journey — what I didn't know was how I was going to get there... However, the moment that I decided that I needed to drop it all was during the passing of my father. He had a long, hard fight with lymphoma, and ultimately succumbed to the illness. It was in the moments, while holding his hand in the ICU, where I decided that the time had come where I needed to start my journey to medicine.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I learned that the instructors, professors and instructional aids are coming from all walks of life. The diversity in education values and instructional techniques span a worldwide demographic —  something that is crucial to consider (and learn from) when walking into a career that will be abundant in diversity.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the College of Health Solutions. Too often, schools focus on the concept of basic sciences and students are ill-equipped to handle the rigors of interpersonal connection in health care. The college addresses these issues by mandating courses in leadership, health care policy and additional ancillary courses that open up the scope of medicine. You see, I believe the goal of the (College of Health Solutions) isn't to solely develop scientists and physicians — it's a school that is interested in the evolution of health care, rather than its stagnancy.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. (Marjon) Forouzeshyetka taught me the utility of my pursuit. She honored and guided my curiosity to not only my interest in science, but my fascination in humankind. She fostered an environment where I was able to explore myself, my interests and my commitment. There's no way to pay somebody back for something like that. I'll try, though.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I very much enjoy sitting at a coffee shop and getting most of my work done. Something about the ambience stimulates my motivation to learn. I also enjoy seeing the familiar faces that come through those same coffee shops and knowing that there is some sort of unspoken commitment that we'll be suffering/learning alongside each other, in silence.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I hope to start an MD/MPH program in the fall, in an attempt to address several crises in health care. The main mission of my life is to expand access to care for the underserved and underprivileged.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: $40 million dollars, while not enough, would be a great start point for tackling the legislative issues for lack of access to health care. I would use it to create a team of knowledgeable public policy/public health specialists that are willing to go beyond the call of medicine and into the role of advocacy.

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