By Mark Nelson
College is a time to learn and develop skills that will serve students well throughout their lives. For UO and Clark Honors College student Hao Tan, the opportunities and experiences he has had in the last 3 years on campus have pushed him to new heights.
Getting involved in research is a tremendous way students can learn hands-on. Hao currently works in the Human Physiology Department’s Motion Analysis Laboratory.
“Our project is a running study and we try to link physiological abnormalities with running mechanics. Basically, trying to develop explanations for why people run the way they do given certain physiologies.”
When first trying to get involved in undergraduate research, Hao shotgunned emails everywhere, and ultimately landed a position with human physiology, in the same lab where his brother – a UO graduate – used to work.
With UO Science facilities getting a massive $500 million-dollar expansion over the next ten years, Hao is optimistic about the development of UO science programs:
“Anything that pertains to expanding student opportunities is exciting for me. We all pay a lot of money to be here and it is cool to see that opportunities are opening up for students.”
Clark Honors College
As a Stamps Scholarship recipient, Hao was automatically accepted into the Clark Honors College. Through the CHC, Hao has had the opportunity to engage with his coursework on a level a step beyond that offered through his general university classes.
“I remember my very first honors class - it was a history class with Vera Keller. It literally whipped me into shape and I became such a better writer from it. The CHC is fairly rigorous. You really have to earn your A's. I think as a freshman, I really started appreciating that when I started having to write.”
In the first two years at the CHC, writing is a focus within the Arts & Letters and Social Sciences sequences. The skills students develop at this point translate beyond the classroom.
“ Writing is one of those things that you are going to need and I think the honors college does a great job developing it.”
“For essays, proposals for other extracurricular activities, the CHC helps you develop and strengthens your ability to convey your ideas. Writing is one of those things that you are going to need and I think the honors college does a great job developing it.”
If you can be in the CHC, regardless of your major, Hao would recommend pursuing it through and through. His writing skills have improved tremendously over three years, and he thinks people often overlook the value of being able to clearly articulate your ideas.
The CHC also opens up unique opportunities outside the classroom. Hao participated in the CHC’s Study Abroad Trip to Easter Island with Dean Terry Hunt.
“The Easter Island trip was great. Just learning about human interactions that you don’t think about because we look at things with bias and the Western lens. But, if you look at the evidence taught, you see your preconceptions melt away and you really do get to understand the very unique society at Easter Island.”
“ The honors college is so great in the sense that you can really, really get to know professors on a personal, non-academic level.”
Beyond academics, Hao also sees the personal value of the honors college: the ability to build relationships.
“I think a lot of people, especially in the honors college, take the faculty relations and how easy it is to build those relationships for granted. I have thought about this a lot. The honors college is great to get to know professors on a personal, non-academic level. It is the interactions and experiences like that that foster a sense of trust and break down the mentor/student power dynamic.”
Hao is currently applying to the Goldwater Scholarship – a nationally competitive distinguished scholarship that funds one or two years of study for aspiring scientists, mathematicians, and engineers – and with his strong letters of recommendation from CHC professors, he has a great chance at winning the award.
Between his major (human physiology) and minor (biochemistry), the CHC, his fraternity, and outside leadership positions, it seems daunting to fit all that into one man’s schedule. Budgeting time can sometimes be a challenge, and Hao has some advice for students trying to get involved:
“ You need to be active and engaged.”
“Give your undivided attention and focus when engaging with obligations. Rather than thinking about what is going to be happening, you should make sure that you are currently engaged or else the point of the extracurricular stops. They are supposed to enrich your college experience and you need to be active and engaged for that to happen.”
Reflecting on his time so far, Hao is impressed with the UO’s development and is excited for what the future holds for the University of Oregon.
“I think as an institution we are making a lot of leaps forward. It is cool that the CHC is in the top ten in the nation. With the development of the Knight Science Complex, I think this university is headed the right way. While I will only be here another year, that complex will be around for decades.”
The UO is constantly improving and that makes being a student here exciting: the experience just keeps getting better.