Skip to main content
Jeremy Chu headshot.

Fulbright Award allows biology grad to enhance cultural skills before medical school

By Hannah Ashton

Sometimes the richest opportunities involve a little bit of defeat.

In 2019, Jeremy Chu was an alternate for the prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Macau, China. Unfortunately, he wasn’t selected to go.

Life carried on, and the biology graduate spent time working as a teacher, social worker and education advocate in Houston. At the same time, he was applying for medical school to become a family physician.

LeAnn Adam, director of National and Global Scholarships Advising at Oregon State, encouraged him to apply for the Fulbright again and Chu was reminded of his dream to travel abroad.

The second time was the charm.

In May he was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant job in Taiwan.

“I wanted an experience where I could re-engage with my Chinese heritage, learn Chinese and get immersed in an experience abroad for a year,” he said.

Receiving the award was a whirlwind and slightly stressful. Simultaneously, he received his acceptance letter to Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. Chu ultimately decided to defer his medical school enrollment and travel to Taiwan.

The intersection of education and healthcare

Originally from Hillsboro, Oregon, Chu wasn’t sure what he wanted to study at Oregon State. With varied interests in marine biology, business, public health and nutrition, he had difficulty pinpointing his education.

He landed on biology; however, for a while he was pulled towards education.

As a first-generation college graduate, Chu knew he was fortunate to receive a higher education and wanted to give back. A spot on the Oregon State Community Engagement and Leadership team was the perfect opportunity.

“You learn about social justice, systems of oppression and how to create meaningful change,” Chu said. “I became very interested in service through that program.”

After graduation, he became an AP Physics teacher through Teach for America Houston for two years. When the pandemic hit, he shifted into advocacy, working as a policy advisor and education organizer. His job included gathering community needs, engaging with stakeholders, leading initiatives and more.

“I saw a lot of issues in the schools I was working in, and I didn’t think they were getting the support they needed,” Chu said.

In 2021 he became a social worker in a middle school.

“I thought education was something I wanted, but I was also interested in science and medicine,” he said. “What I saw in the schools was a lot of health disparities. My goal now is to become a family doctor working in a community or school-based clinic.”

The Fulbright Award will allow him to work with youth and help him learn how to communicate with and serve diverse, multilingual populations in his future career as a physician.

Learn more about applying for Fulbright or other national and international scholarships and fellowships, through the National and Global Scholarships Advising office.