Alumni Stories: Tianci

What’s the common thread between polypeptide chains, creating a learning community for international students, and sewing dresses for children in need around the globe? Answer: Tianci Wang.

As a graduate student at McGill University, she is completing her Master of Science in Physiology and currently working as a Medical Scribe at Montreal Jewish General Hospital, which focuses on the geriatric population.

When she first came to Hudson for Grades 11 and 12, however, Tianci was an international student from China, determined to perfect her English while also exploring areas of science which interested her. “I wanted to study biology because it addresses the secrets of the human body: why we function the way we do. But I was mainly focused on improving my English speaking. I knew I needed accelerated skills for work and school.”

At Hudson, she found an incredible support system, which she says is unique to the school and how she was able to start a group for international students to study for the International English Language Testing System (IELTSTM) exam, a crucial component of the university admission process for many international students.

“If you have a really good idea at Hudson, you can make it happen by proposing it to a teacher or even to the principal,” she says.“For IELTS, I had an idea to start an informal study group so that all students could share the books. Everyone was very supportive and let us make copies with the school copy machine and use classroom space to stay after school to study and practice speaking. We communicated what we needed, and they offered us helpful resources.”

As a result of the group, Tianci says she felt bolstered by the encouragement of all of her teachers and peers, and confident in focusing on her interest in science, which she says was specifically engaged by her chemistry and biology teacher.

“We studied a genetic section in Grade 12 Biology about the translation of DNA to protein. Our teacher explained how tRNA helps decode mRNA into a protein, how it assembles the right amino acid onto the polypeptide chain, which is subsequently folded into a protein and trafficked throughout the cell. This is the subject that I’m currently working on for my Master’s project—protein folding and trafficking in a genetic disease—and it was at Hudson that I was first exposed to the topic.”

She also learned about using creativity to solve problems in the community and helping others. “We were often challenged to use out-of-the-box, creative thinking to come up with ideas, to make something work and turn it into something practical. This definitely helped me because during my Master’s studies, I worked on a charity project called Dressing With Love—founded by my friend, Stefanie Valbon—to help teach Montreal residents to sew dresses and send them to children in need around the world.”

Tianci is currently the VP-External of Dressing With Love, and the group has partnered with other local groups such as McGill Students for Geriatric Health to fundraise and The Yellow Door to hold dressmaking tutorials. To distribute the dresses in Uganda, it has also partnered with McGill professors who have a project called Kibale Mobile Clinic. It has also expanded to sending dresses to orphanages in China, Haiti, the Philippines, and Cuba.

When asked what she remembers most about Hudson, Tianci cites a “patchwork” of memories: teachers who went above and beyond, overseas class trips, working with Lower School students to help explore her potential, and in general, the supportive environment.

“I still remember when I received my last report card from my English teacher. She said she knew I was trying hard on all of my papers and said, ‘Reading your work all semester really lit up my days. I know you will go out into the world and do something good.’”

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