Health Care from the Heart

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Joyce Gu has a lot to celebrate. The recent biology and psychological science alumna enrolled in an early acceptance program with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, while she was an undergraduate, and after graduating in spring 2022 began medical school in the summer.

She was also named a 2021 Lincoln Student Laureate in the state of Illinois during her time at Illinois Tech, an award that honors President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy and recognizes one outstanding graduating college senior at each university in the state.

Gu, who was born in Shanghai and grew up in Naperville, Illinois, says she found personal meaning in having been chosen as a Lincoln Student Laureate.

“Before I came to the United States, I was raised by my grandparents in China,” she says. “I was transplanted halfway across the world only to start all over again. I was so disoriented, not only in school but in life, and was determined to catch up. When I came to college, I kept that spirit with me. The Lincoln award kind of honors that—that you've worked your way from the bottom to the top, and reestablished your identity to be a leader that serves for the betterment of humanity.”

As a student at Illinois Tech, Gu maintained a high grade-point average while also being involved in many campus activities. Among them, she served as chair of the President’s Student Advisory Council (PSAC), president of Unifying and Nurturing Individuals Through Empathy (UNITE), founder of Anti-Resume Project, and student representative of the Dean Search Committee for Lewis College of Science and Letters. She also worked as a clinical research assistant to Ankit Mehta, a neurosurgeon at UI Health, the University of Illinois in Chicago Hospital Health Sciences System, where she focused on the rehabilitation of postoperative patients.

Gu is likely to focus on neurology in medical school and says she has especially been interested in neurodegenerative diseases after having watched the grandmother who raised her lose memory of her when Gu was eight years old. She says she envisions herself one day becoming the kind of doctor who treats her patients like family.

“I like being in the hospital, I like that patient interaction,” Gu says. “It is what I have been working toward for so long, and I feel like I am just getting started with my future.”