Student Corner: Yingyao Catherine Shao

The Student Leadership Alliance created by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner serves the essential role of acting as an adviser to him on issues important to college students. Contributing to this committee is Baylor College of Medicine’s Catherine Yingyao Shao, a student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

The Alliance meets regularly to discuss issues that impact graduate and undergraduate students, including safety, transportation, quality of life, workforce opportunities and civic engagement. Read this Q&A with Shao to learn her role on the Alliance, and here at Baylor.

Yingyao Catherine Shao

Yingyao Catherine Shao

What are you studying at Baylor College of Medicine? I’m a graduate student in Dr. Huda Zoghbi’s lab. Currently, my work focuses on developing treatments for severe neurological disorders.

What got you interested in this opportunity with the Office of the Mayor? As a first-generation immigrant who has had the opportunity to pursue higher education, I am always passionate about helping the community and giving back. I’m active in many educational activities; for example, I’m the vice president of education at the Consulting Club in the Texas Medical Center and also active in KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) in greater Houston. When I saw the opportunity to represent BCM students and share our thoughts with Mayor Sylvester Turner, it immediately got my attention. I really want to emphasize BCM’s role in the higher education system in Houston and let Mayor Turner hear from students about our concerns, and what we appreciate.

What do you hope to contribute to the subcommittee? I want to share with the Mayor and City of Houston about several concerns, including safety and mental health. I want to leverage my healthcare and leadership background to better design a strategy to improve the mental health of students in colleges and graduate schools, as well as to help address other concerns that the committee has. Also, I want to encourage students to apply for graduate school and pursue their passion for healthcare.

What are your plans after graduation? How do you plan to continue this type of work after graduating? My plan after the graduation is to go into industry. I want to learn more business-side of the healthcare industry. There are few people who understand patient care as well as the business operations of pharmaceutical companies. I would like to be the person who can bridge academia and the pharma companies to facilitate the academia work, educate the company about patient care, and further benefits the ultimate patients. At the same time, I will continue my educational work with several non-profit organizations to improve the awareness of the importance of the higher education, and facilitate the mental health programs.