Junke Zhu
Student Spotlight | 4/11/2024

Management Student is Harvard-Bound to be ‘The Force’ Behind Healthcare

By Jennifer Persons

Junke Zhu

After graduating from MCPHS this spring, Junke Zhu plans to pursue his master’s degree in epidemiology to focus on aging population health.

Junke Zhu was sitting in class when he received the email that he’d waited months for. It was from Harvard. The subject line read, “There’s an Update to Your Application.”

“When I opened it, I didn’t see the word ‘congratulations’ right away like in other acceptance emails, which made me even more nervous,” Zhu said, smiling while remembering the moment.

As he kept reading, the email finally said, “We’d like to offer you admission.”

“I was completely shocked, surprised, and so happy,” Zhu said, smiling bigger.

The first person he told was his program director and mentor.

“I was not at all surprised and in many ways relieved,” said James Goss, DHA, MICP. “I was relieved in the sense that, while you always hope your students will find great success, you want your highly talented students to go to programs that will stimulate and challenge them intellectually.”

Making the Numbers Meaningful

Numbers have always made sense to Zhu. He can use mathematics and statistics to find an answer to nearly any question. However, the most important part for Zhu is using that answer to help people. He hopes to build on this mission by pursuing his Master of Science in Epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

“I’ve learned how to take the knowledge and apply it to real-life situations,” Zhu said about his time as an undergraduate at MCPHS. “We can use different tools to manage or make sense of information, and that’s interesting to me.”

Zhu grew up in Jiangsu, China, a province on the eastern coast of the country. In high school, he studied economics, but his curiosity about other fields started to grow.

“I started to have an interest in healthcare, but I wasn’t good at biology and chemistry,” he said. “I started looking at some healthcare-specific schools to see if there were any options.”

That’s how Zhu found MCPHS. After connecting with an International Student Ambassador, he enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management program. In his second year, he added a minor in public health to combine his technical skills with his growing interest in healthcare.

“There is more than one way to care for people,” Zhu said. “I found that by using statistical tools and the public health perspective, I can find outcomes and answers that benefit people.”

Over the last four years, Zhu has gained a new perspective on healthcare systems, using data science and analytics to gather insights into what can be done within the system to improve patient care. He’s also practiced developing new processes to address current issues in healthcare.

“During my first informatics course, I developed a system to monitor the elderly population remotely,” he explained. “Through that experience, I found there is great demand for giving care to the elderly. The population is large and hasn’t been paid enough attention.”

Finding His Place in Healthcare

At Harvard, Zhu will have the opportunity to explore all three of his interests—data analytics, public health, and the aging population—by concentrating on diseases and disorders affecting older adults. He’s also looking forward to working with students from other concentrations and disciplines.

“The most important lesson I learned from Dr. Goss is collaboration needs to be the focus of healthcare,” Zhu said. “It takes different professionals from different disciplines to actually deliver care to patients.”

Zhu similarly impacted Dr. Goss and his program, showing dedication to a bigger cause.

“Aside from his innate talent, Junke’s desire to find things out and advance his own knowledge are the things that have assured his success here at MCPHS and will continue to serve him well into the future,” Dr. Goss said. “I think he will be one of those people who makes a difference.”

Five years ago, Zhu wouldn’t have believed he’d be pursuing a master’s degree in a healthcare subject. Today, he hopes his journey will encourage other students to be open to growing opportunities in the field.

“Most people think of clinicians when they think about healthcare, but there are a lot of people, like managers and analysts, who support those clinicians to successfully provide care,” he said. “For me, that is the force behind healthcare.”

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