Featured Student: Meichen Yap

By Tianlei (Ruby) Qiu, Class of 2024

Meichen Yap, a senior pursuing a degree in behavioral psychology at DKU, is currently in the midst of her graduate school applications. Originating from Malaysia, she spent her formative years in Shenzhen, China, enriching her academic journey with a diverse and unique perspective. Recently honored with the Outstanding Student Scholar Award at the CSCC Annual Conference, Meichen stands as a testament to remarkable achievements. We are fortunate to interview Meichen Yap and delve into her distinctive experiences and academic pursuits. 

Q: Hi Meichen. Thanks for meeting with me. As the current president of the Medihealth Podcast, please tell us more about the genesis of the student-led podcast at DKU. What inspired the idea, and how did the initiative come about? What’s your favorite episode of all?

A: Sure. The primary objective of our podcast is to foster connections by curating diverse information sources, such as insights from hospitals, to disseminate valuable content to patients. Our focus spans various subjects, including determining optimal information channels during COVID-19 peaks, delving into scientific evidence, engaging with the pre-health student community, and pursuing our interests in mental health aspects, cancer research, and bioethics. We aspire to create a platform that facilitates outreach, explores career opportunities, and connects with researchers. My favorite episode is the one featuring discussions on anxiety and health. We featured guest speaker Dr. O’Brien passionately advocates for health as a fundamental right.

Q: Thank you! That’s very impressive. Being the recipient of the Outstanding Student Scholar Award is a remarkable achievement. Is there anything related to the podcast that contributed to you winning this award? If not, could you tell us about the specific work or projects that contributed to receiving this recognition?

A: Thank you. I think it’s more about my research. I am interested in engaging in research, of course, with many other students. Our research focus centers on resilience, explicitly exploring the individual’s capacity to bounce back from adversity, including navigating trauma and enduring the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We investigate the phenomenon of resilience through a systematic lens to understand and enhance personal resilience. Our efforts extend to building resilience through various interventions, seeking to contribute valuable insights into fostering resilience on both an individual and systemic level.

Q: That sounds very interesting. You mentioned that the pandemic inspired you to delve deep into this topic; what else inspired you to research this area? Can you elaborate on any specific challenges you’ve encountered or any take-aways you have?

A: from a very young age, my fascination with the profound impact humans can have on the world ignited a passion for research. This curiosity led me to explore the intersection of mental health and medicine. I was driven to understand how individuals can make meaningful life changes. While traditional medical treatments play a crucial role, I became increasingly aware of their limitations, particularly in low-income settings where resources are often constrained. This inspired me to focus on the external factors influencing health and how individuals can independently leverage their internal resources to address health challenges. I’ve encountered the compelling narrative of individuals successfully tackling issues such as quitting smoking and alcohol dependency by drawing strength from within. These personal journeys have become robust evidence that resilience exists within individuals, even when faced with limited external resources. This fuels my dedication to researching and understanding the dynamics of personal resilience in the face of health challenges.

Q: Wow. Thank you for sharing. Given your inspirations and current research interests, we know you’re applying for grad school, like many of us. What are your plans or aspirations in the field of global health? Are there specific areas or issues you are passionate about addressing in future research endeavors? Do you have any tips for other fellow students navigating grad school programs?

A: Thank you. I am applying for graduate school programs in public health and epidemiology. My plans in the field of global health revolve around addressing specific issues that resonate with my passion for promoting health equity. One crucial area I’m eager to explore is the information gap that often hinders preventive health practices. This includes tackling vaccine hesitancy and promoting cardiovascular health by closing the knowledge gap and making crucial information accessible to individuals. I’m also intrigued by the challenge of bridging the belief-action gap, ensuring that health-related behaviors align with individual actions. I believe in learning through doing. While passionate about the field, I recognize that being 100% enamored with a subject is not always necessary. Instead, my focus lies in pursuing my interests, actively engaging with the issues at hand, and contributing meaningfully to the ongoing dialogue and solutions in global health.