Laura Tang, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
My leadership philosophy is grounded by the conviction that I can empower and grow with others. This belief translates to activities starting meaningful dialogue, building mentorship networks, and fostering leadership in the teams I lead.
As a student researcher driven by curiosity, I have moved from clinical to translational to basic research. I picked up a growth mindset and communication skills en route. These skills combined gave me stories to share with audiences of all backgrounds at poster presentations and program promotions. I found that my personal narrative was more accessible to students unfamiliar with biology research and sparked discussion. In the past four years, I engaged with many people who have different life-stories and values than myself and learned that making meaningful connections began at finding an appropriate language. For example, I engaged biology students in dialogue promoting the satellite project of University of Toronto Aerospace Team by relating microgravity to evolution of virulence. As a leader, I continue to create new avenues of collaboration with student groups and the department in order to make new learning and social opportunities for students.
I value mentorship because my accomplishments have always been underpinned by people who believed in me and helped me build my confidence over time. In first year, my student mentor listened to my challenges with empathy and encouraged me to act beyond my vulnerability to secure my first research opportunity. I learned from her that everyone is carrying something unseen, and that is deserving of tolerance, understanding, and support. This belief seeded my desire to empower students and motivated me to run for VP Academic of the Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology Student Union (LMPSU). When I was elected, I revived LMP mentorship program which connected 30 students and acquired CCR accreditation for the program. I saw the relationships which I catalyzed develop at the academic seminars which I organized. Later on, as a mentor, I sought to be a positive and honest role model. As my mentees and I took small steps together writing research applications or studying, I listened to them without bias to understand their perspectives and advocated for their strengths.
As current LMPSU Co-President, I chair meetings and work with my executive team to oversee academic seminars, socials, study sessions and a mentorship program. I have collaborated with the LMP department to host an undergraduate town hall to listen to and start addressing student needs and barriers. I also planned and co-chaired a conference (Go with Your Gut 2020) held at UofT which attracted over 200 attendees, 5 undergraduate poster presenters, and featured a more equitable gender representation in our speakers. My efforts as Co-President have realized some immediate changes which include increased second-year student engagement, a CCR-accredited mentorship program and an eco-friendlier digitalized past-test distribution process. However, the outcome that I value the most is the growth of my executive team as they step into leadership positions themselves. I remained flexible and offered support as I encouraged less experienced students to take ownership and lead sub-committees for new programs and changes based on their ideas. I try to democratize the decision-making process. As a result, we have hosted more relevant events and reached higher attendance rates at the events we host. My team’s collective vision of what the LMP student community could become is more vibrant than my vision alone. I am very fortunate to build that dream together with them.