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The Humanities Program

William Chu

1. What was your Humanities contract about?

One day on campus, I came across an article about a Brazilian faith healer named Zé Arigó removing eye tumors with nothing but a dirty pen. Because my Humanities concentration had a good amount of philosophy, religious study, and psychology courses, I wanted to further explore how our beliefs, culture, and religion can shape our health outcomes.

2. How did your Humanities education benefit you?

Growing up as a first-generation immigrant from an Asian family, my mom received a lot of negative feedback from the relatives on allowing her only son to major in liberal arts. I was lucky enough to be accepted to medical school and later became an Air Force officer. My humanities education has given me a different perspective and advantage being able to see the world through a different set of lenses than my peers.  Whether the topic is in medicine or military operations, I always ask the "why" as my colleagues are often focused on the "how" and "what."

3. What was your favorite experience at UT

Once, Professor Paul Woodruff invited his "Introduction to Philosophy" students to his house where we read our parts from a play over wine and cheese. That was cool. It felt very special and intimate especially at a big university like UT. Teachers like him taught me how to think and most importantly always remain curious. Today, I teach at the Uniformed Services University on Global Health and apply the Socratic Method to my students. I am still trying to figure out what philosophical play I should have my students read over wine and cheese at my house.

4. Describe your career and how you found this position.

Well, as an Asian child, there's an understood expectation to be a doctor or engineer in order to not grow up and disappoint your parents. I actually wanted to be an opera singer but realized that I had no talent. So having a backup pre-med concentration plan seemed logical. Initially, becoming a doctor was to honor my parent's wish. But then I joined the military with hopes of finding my own path. And I did. Being a flight surgeon in the greatest Air Force in the world is an adventure. Being able to take care of heroes and their families around the world is a privilege and an honor. An unexpected reward is that I am re-discovering the "why" I started this journey. My "why" is adding value to others.