Kat Anderson is a Stanford 2020 graduate, former member of the Stanford Beach Volleyball team, and co-founder of Stanford’s Athletes in Medicine (AIMS) organization. As an ACE in China 2017 alum, Anderson shares lessons she learned about ethical service, and how these lessons continue to impact her 5 years later as she pursues a career as a physician. She also remembers how participating in ACE revealed her passions for working with children and for teaching.
What are you doing now? How did ACE influence your career?
I am currently working full-time as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Seattle Children’s Hospital in the Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Participating in ACE in China showed me how energized and rewarded I feel when working with children, and I feel so fortunate to be able to work with children on a daily basis while conducting research to advance medicine.
Additionally, I work part-time as an MCAT Course Instructor for Blueprint Prep, where I teach classes of 15-70 students on everything from physics and biochemistry to critical reading and sociology. My time teaching English to children for ACE uncovered my passion for teaching, and I have since enjoyed finding creative ways to break down complex information and make students excited to learn! I also volunteer as a Director for the national nonprofit Synapse, which supports individuals with brain injuries. ACE showed me that ethical service will remain an important part of my life, not due to my desire to help others, but also because I have recognized how much I can learn from working with those from different backgrounds and experiences than my own.
“Building meaningful relationships with the children in ACE reaffirmed my commitment to improving health and wellbeing for marginalized youth. Ultimately, I hope to combine service, teaching, research, advocacy, and clinical care in my career as a physician.”
– Kat Anderson, ACE in China 2017
Additionally, I am collaborating with physicians and advisors to continue developing Athletes in Medicine (AIMS), an organization which I founded alongside Jacie Lemos, another ACE in China participant! We created AIMS to support student-athletes as they pursue a career in medicine. We have designed an official Stanford AIMS class (Surg144) which was offered this past year, have provided research and volunteer opportunities to student-athletes, and are now planning ways to empower pre-med athletes across the country! Building meaningful relationships with the children in ACE reaffirmed my commitment to improving health and wellbeing for marginalized youth. Ultimately, I hope to combine service, teaching, research, advocacy, and clinical care in my career as a physician. I am currently applying to medical school and am excited to see where that takes me!
What was the most meaningful part of your ACE experience?
By far the most meaningful part of my ACE experience was making connections with the local children and learning about their culture. Despite the language barrier, I enjoyed finding fun ways to communicate and make genuine bonds. One boy arrived early to camp each day to race upstairs to bring me my nametag, which was such a touching sign of friendship. I will never forget all the precious children and their beautiful culture!
Share a lesson you learned from your ACE experience that still holds true today:
I greatly appreciated how much ACE focused on teaching us how to engage in ethical and culturally sensitive service. In ACE in China, we partnered with a local NGO to ensure our efforts would empower the community and be sustained long after we left. This experience taught me the importance of asking community leaders how I can best help, and that global service is a two-way street of teaching and learning. I will carry this important lesson in ethical service throughout my life.
“This experience taught me the importance of asking community leaders how I can best help, and that global service is a two-way street of teaching and learning.”
– Kat Anderson, ACE in China 2017
Share a fun ACE memory:
After the last day of camp, one of the students invited us into to his home to meet his family and see where he lived. His mom had made fresh yak butter tea for all of us, a traditional Tibetan drink which is exactly as it sounds. Unaccustomed to the richness and saltiness of all the healthy fats, drinking a little Yak butter tea went a long way for me.
However, not finishing a cup of tea was considered a sign of disrespect, so I was sure to drink it all. I carefully hid my concern beneath a big smile as she refilled and refilled…and refilled my cup. Wanting to show my appreciation for her hospitality, I probably finished four cups. While I would be perfectly happy never having yak butter tea again in my life, I will never forget how warm and welcoming everyone in the community was during my time in Zhongdian.
Describe your ACE experience in as few words as possible:
Formative, meaningful, FUN, and unforgettable!
What’s one thing you want people to know about ACE?
I truly believe that ACE is making better global citizens and contributing to a kinder, more equitable world.
What’s your hope for the future of ACE? What advice do you have for future ACE participants?
In the next five years, I hope more student-athletes have the opportunity to take advantage of this incredible experience.