Meet Reina Qu: On Life Post-Grad

Reina and I met in Chinese class at Haverford. I admit that when she graduated, we lost touch, but as luck would have it, we ran into each other at an event in Philly for which she was volunteering. We caught up over a brunch (or a few) and I was so fascinated to hear about everything she had been up to post-grad, and I thought that you might be too! So here’s Reina with a few words about what she’s been up to post-grad, and maybe you’ll find some inspiration and comfort in it!

Photo courtesy of Reina Qu. Schuylkill Regatta where Reina's sister was competing on behalf of her high school’s rowing team.

Undergrad: Bryn Mawr College

Year: Green-Lanterns!

Grad: The University of Pennsylvania Law School

Major: EALC (East Asian Studies)

Concentration: China Studies

Minor: Psychology

What’s something people should know about you?

I’m a hard working gal who grew up mostly in New York.

What’s something people should know about you? -answered by a friend

“She has a really curious mind. If she’s interested in a subject, she’ll dig deep and find out everything she can about it.” -J.Y.

“Reina is very artistic. She dances, draws, plays music and even… raps!” -S.L.

“She’s a creative thinker who can bring an interesting perspective to any topic or conversation.” -C.C.

Why did you choose Bryn Mawr, and why did you choose to stay?

I had the opportunity to tour Bryn Mawr College and spend a night there while in high school. I had a great impression of its student body, caliber of education, faculty, facilities and just overall vibe.

Once at Bryn Mawr College, I fell in love with the campus and the diverse yet supportive community of focused young adults. I felt that Bryn Mawr was an educational institute that truly values the educational enlightenment of its students, shares ideas and nurtures a network of supportive peers regardless of future occupations and backgrounds.

What’s your favorite memory from your time at Bryn Mawr?

Looking back, my whole four years were a great time altogether. It would be hard for me to distinguish one from the other. I truly value the friendships I made and the people I met, both in class and out of class, students and faculty alike.  It’s easier to appreciate things when they they have passed. There’s little moments I really remember like watching movies with my friends in our dorm rooms, staying up all night talking and going out to dinner together in the city.

How did you choose your major? / What interests you most about that topic?

I feel like my major chose me.

I obviously made the decision to run with it, but I didn’t have a clear defined career path in mind. I had entered college wanting to pursue International Relations, but in my matriculating year the school had yet to fully establish the program. I took courses that fulfilled the general college prerequisites and courses that I was interested in. When time came to “choose” my major, my dean advised me to follow my heart. I realized that by the end of sophomore year I had already fulfilled the majority of the East Asian Studies requirement, so it seemed like good, logical choice to declare it as my major. It ended up working out as the study abroad institute I was interested in attending, SOAS University of London, was also a premier liberal arts school for area studies.

One of the main reasons I chose this major was because of the wide range in courses I could take. From psychology to anthropology to philosophy to literature. As a curious undergrad, my main goal in college was to pursue knowledge. While learning more about my heritage was also a great motivational force, East Asian Studies provided the flexibility in disciplines I desired while focusing on a regional area of my interest. Through my major, I realized how all the subjects in humanities are interconnected. From my literature courses, I learned both history and sociology. From my history courses, I learned political science and philosophy.

What activities were you involved with on campus?

On campus I was all over the place. I participated in the Equestrian Club, the Squash Club, and the Latin Dance Club. I would go to ASA meetings and SGA meetings sporadically. As an upperclassman I was more involved with clubs that my friends began.

What have you been up to post-grad?

Photo courtesy of Reina Qu. Reina Qu and Cai Guo-Qiang, Parke Town Place South Art Gallery for the Opening of “Fireflies.”

I’m currently an M.L. candidate, waiting to hear back from medical schools, and working part time at Penn Medicine. After completing my post-bac while applying to medical school, I was accepted to the Master in Law program at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. I had contemplated how to spend my gap year and luckily Penn, being an interdisciplinary school, had the perfect program for its medical students to teach about the law/policy aspects of the field. This was a serendipitous opportunity for me as it integrated the two fields of my interests.

During my post-bac, I worked part time as an Academic Associate in the ER at HUP. This fall I had the opportunity to intern on a public art project celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It was designed by a contemporary artist whom I learned about in an art history class at Bryn Mawr, so meeting him and being a part of the project was a surreal experience.

How did you get from your undergrad major to studying law and medicine? When did you realize you were interested in law? In medicine?

As someone famous once said, “It’s easier to connect the dots looking backwards than going forwards.” I can’t really tell you that this was my plan in my second year of undergrad or that this is where I would be if you had asked me six years ago. I just pursued my interests and was confident that if I worked hard good things would follow. I chased every opportunity I had and made the most of my circumstances while keeping true to myself.

As an undergrad in the field of humanities, law was kind of a no-brainer. I liked the idea of helping others and fighting for others. In my first two years, I entertained the idea of law school and its possible career options—actually buying an LSAT book to study from (I gave that book away as one of my May Day gifts senior year).

It wasn’t until I had studied abroad and then worked at a non-profit in another nation that I began to have different career interests in mind—having been exposed to more of the world and reflecting on my own experiences growing up, I still wanted to be of service to others and have a meaningful career. However I began to see a new method of deliverance by realizing my goals and interests in medicine. I enjoy patient interaction (educating patients and being a tool to help them lead better lives) and the field of science (which is always endlessly expanding/growing in both knowledge and tech). I’m a huge believer in preventative and integrative medicine to provide people "value based" care for a higher quality of living in the long run.

How did you feel taking on such a shift? How did you handle it?

Of course it was quite challenging—anyone who has toyed with ideas of medicine or going through the process can attest—but I knew what I wanted so no obstacle could deter me from my goals. I had to be introspective while studying for courses to examine what was working and what wasn’t working if I wasn’t getting the results I desired. Studying the sciences requires a lot of of self-discipline and structure. It’s easier when you have passion and a purpose in mind; then you’re able to see the bigger picture.

What are some of your hobbies?

One of my future (way future) hopes is to hold an exhibit of my own works at an art gallery someday.

What’s your favorite method of self-care?

Since it’s getting brick now, I enjoy bundling up at home, drinking a nice cup of tea or coffee and reading a book while having some lo-fi hip-hop jazz playing in the background.

I enjoy group exercise classes like Zumba and Barre. It gives me an opportunity to not think and meditate in a way by just moving and sweating—great exercises for someone like me who enjoys dancing, yet perhaps doesn't enjoy the idea of “working-out.”

What advice do you have for first-years? For seniors?

There will be circumstances, events and such that you aren’t able to control in life and are out of your hands, but you are able to control how you choose to act, feel and do in the face of these circumstances. Living with a glass half full perspective will make the rest of your life easier and allow for you to live in the moment.

For anyone visiting Philly for the first time, what recommendations do you have for them?

I’d definitely check out Reading Terminal Market—it’s a point of interest in Philadelphia and they have really great produce as well as foods from Amish Country in Lancaster, PA.

There’s a couple of small restaurants on 13th St. between Chestnut and Walnut St. that are also very delicious.

What are some things you’re up to, and how can we support you?

I’m currently part of a new program at the post-bac in Penn that aims to create a connection with medical facilities in China for a sort of intercultural-educational-exchange bridge to give students on both sides the opportunities to see, learn and experience healthcare in a different setting. It’s currently in the works now.

The world is only going to become smaller through the advance of technology and the world will be better off with more understanding and cultural exchanges (especially health-wise as our patient population in the US is so varied and diverse). I’m grateful that I’ve been able to use all the knowledge I’ve learned in my undergrad days and share it with my peers. I hope to be able to connect all the dots in the future, tying together all my interests in my career.

Thank you for your time Reina!


Computer Science and Linguistics double major at Bryn Mawr College. Lover of bubble tea and anything matcha.

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