Joshua Ong - Beyond the books

“It’s all about the people — classmates and faculty — and the diverse experiences you have now that will make you the leader you want to become.”

Joshua Ong

Even before graduating high school, Josh took part in brain cancer research at Ohio State. Through his dedication, he has identified a novel inhibitor capable of eradicating brain cancer cells. He is currently carrying out research on a NASA project about the effects of microgravity on the body. 

What is your best Ohio State moment?

One of my best moments was one of realization. A big challenge for me has been finding the balance between academics and everything else. I took on challenging courses my freshman year and spent most of my time in the library, leaving very little time to build relationships with other students. It seemed like I was doing the right thing to achieve my idea of “excellence.”

It was not until I had lunch with President Drake my sophomore year that I began to fully understand excellence. As we were finishing up, I asked if he had any advice to offer about how I could best represent the university as his presidential host. He said, “The relationships you make here at Ohio State are equally important as your studies. Develop them. Enjoy them."

Noticing that I was a pretty surprised, President Drake explained that Ohio State is one of the most diverse learning communities I would ever be part of. My fuzzy realization soon became clear: the people I meet and the relationships I build will help shape me into the leader I hope to become.

What are your plans to pay forward based on your Ohio State experiences? What are you doing already?

My plans to pay forward started when I volunteered at an Ohio State family medicine clinic. My first instructions from the presiding physician were daunting: “I want you to go in there and record his medical history. He’s been hurting for a while, has no insurance or family to take care of him, and doesn’t speak English. Good luck!”

I want to help people like the man in the clinic that day — those who need my help the most, in underserved communities in Columbus and beyond.

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