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Jolie Hoang

Multiple Awards for the Multifaceted Leadership of Biology Student Jolie Hoang

  • An exemplary leader among her peers, Dung (Jolie) Hoang, BS (Medical & Molecular Biology) ’21 won multiple awards at the spring 2021 virtual award ceremony for the School of Arts and Sciences and the Center for Campus Life. Among her honors was the President’s Commitment to Diversity Award, given to one recipient per program who contributed to diversifying the community or working with ethnic minorities to strengthen their voice. Jolie’s award was announced by Instructor of Public Health Devan Hawkins, with whom she worked in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, investigating the effects of marital status on “deaths of despair,” including deaths by suicide, opioid overdose, poisoning, and alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis. Jolie won the President’s Commitment to Diversity Award for her investigation into the prevalence of anxiety and depression by race/ethnicity and immigration status in US-born and foreign-born individuals.

    Jolie says her research was inspired by her own experience as an international student from Vietnam, which began when she was in high school on scholarship in a foreign exchange program. As a 14-year-old, she traveled alone to Lincoln, Nebraska, where she struggled with culture shock. “I had to rewire my brain to become accustomed to the culture,” she says. “It took me a while. My personality completely shifted. . . . I went from being gregarious to timorous.” But though she faced adversity, Jolie considers her experience as being seminal to her college career. In Nebraska, she lived in a Catholic community surrounded by people she describes as putting others’ needs before their own. This environment laid the groundwork for her identity, namely her interest in public service. When she arrived at MCPHS, she joined the Student Government Association (SGA) as treasurer and vice president for her first two years. In that time, she grew close with the advisor, Senior Associate Dean of Students Carl Oliveri, PhD, for whom she has a great deal of respect: “He taught me a lot in terms of how to be a good representative of the student, how to listen to the students’ voice and how to advocate for that.” Jolie transitioned out of SGA as she became more involved in research. However, her experience in SGA bolstered her self-confidence and inspired her to pursue other leadership positions, including student representative in the Institutional Effectiveness Committee; vice president of the Residence Hall Council; peer tutor; peer mentor; supplemental instruction leader; orientation leader; career ambassador; international student guide; and student wellness ambassador for student affairs, for which she assisted the Student Mental Health and Wellness Committee.

    In her junior year, Jolie founded the TEDxMCPHS organization with the mission to cultivate a culture of sharing interdisciplinary ideas and igniting meaningful conversations about issues that matter. At the inaugural TEDxMCPHS virtual conference, her team chose the theme "Pushing Boundaries" to highlight the resilience, grit, and creativity of our generations--the globalized generations that challenge the status quo, reinvent definitions, and make innovations the norms. Through the TEDx Talks, her team wished to share transformative ideas with a global audience to amplify the impact of the speakers' discoveries and thereby enrich our collective knowledge and spark conversations and pragmatic actions for positive growth. You can view the full the TEDxMCPHS Talks playlist here.

    At the Leadership Awards Banquet hosted by the Center for Campus Life on April 21, Jolie’s TEDxMCPHS organization won a Community Impact Award and the Large-scale Event of the Year Award; the latter was awarded to the number one event to have contributed the most impact to the community. At this awards banquet, Jolie also won the President’s Cup—the highest honor a student can get at MCPHS. Each year, the Cup is awarded to one graduating student who demonstrates academic excellence and leadership roles that embody the vision of the University. Additionally, Jolie was one of two Dean’s Award recipients for the School of Arts and Sciences. She was nominated by Instructor & Assistant Director of Health Sciences Anthony Lacina, DHS, MPH, MEd, CHES, who praises Jolie as being a superlative peer mentor. “Without doubt, it is fair to say that Jolie has taken advantage of every involvement, leadership, and learning opportunity that was presented to her while a student at MCPHS University,” says Professor Lacina. “At the same time, she took on these opportunities in a selfless way, always attempting to make her community better and more engaged while preparing herself for life after MCPHS.”

    After graduation, Jolie is pursuing a master’s degree in clinical psychology, with a global mental health and trauma concentration at the Teachers College, Columbia University. In line with her interest in public service, her long-term goal is to become a clinical psychologist, conducting research with cultural variables and then translating that research into practice and treatment for underserved people with serious mental illness worldwide.