Monthly Interview : Chelsea, a graduating senior from Canada

Author name
Phoebe Kiburi

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Chelsea Liu, and I am a graduating senior. I come from Toronto, Canada where I moved with my mother when I was 9 years old. Prior to that, I lived in China with my parents.


How was your experience growing up?

From China, I first moved to downtown Toronto, which was incredibly diverse. About two-thirds of the students in my school were first- or second-generation immigrants from East Asian, South Asian or Middle Eastern countries, and the other third were all other races combined. We later moved to a suburban area, Oakville, which was more representative of the demography of Canada. That’s when I had to make major adjustments to fit in with the other students.

Please tell us about your education experience at Duke.

I am a pre-med student majoring in Computer Science. Most of the classes I took at Duke were science classes and requirements – not exactly your typical ‘fun’ classes. (Chuckles).

Other than classwork, I was involved in research. During my freshman and sophomore years, I explored working in different labs from which I learned a great deal. At the end of my sophomore year, I met my mentor, Dr. Janet Prvu Bettger, during a talk that she gave at the medical school and ended up working with her for the next two years.

What was your research about?

We used the data collected in large-scale clinical trials in China and the U.S. to learn more about the factors influencing stroke patient outcomes after different modes of rehabilitation or caregiving. I’m particularly interested in what the family caregiver’s role is in stroke patients’ post-hospital experience, especially as the populations in China and U.S. are rapidly aging and it’s not clear if the healthcare system in either country can withstand the patient burden that this trend brings.

I worked with Dr. Bettger and my mentors at Beijing Tiantan Hospital and at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health to design these studies. I presented the findings from the study in China at the International Stroke Conference in January, and we’ve just submitted the manuscript to the International Journal of Stroke to be considered for publication.

Name a few extracurricular activities you were involved with at Duke?

I was part of NeuroCare, a student organization that advocates for people with neurological disorders. I joined the club in freshman year and was president for two years. Our activities involved fundraising, engaging the student body through speaker series. Being a part of NeuroCare has taught me the importance of being organized. The amount of logistics required for our events, and the engagement with various groups of people—professors, community organizers, speakers, other student groups, etc.—meant that it was also important to be collaborative and accountable.

Duke is said to have so many opportunities for students. What specific opportunities would you advise current and incoming students to take advantage of?

I shall speak of the opportunities that I took advantage of to encourage others to do the same.

I’ve been part of a Bass Connections team led by Dr. Bettger, the Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation, for two years. I also received summer research experience funding from the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences for a separate Bass Connections project. I completed a Duke Engage Independent project last summer in China and received travel funding through the Undergraduate Research Support Office. I have learned that most professors are open to students working with if there is strong interest and commitment.

Mentorship was a resource that had a significant and positive impact on my experience here. My mentors at International House, particularly Seun and Esra, have shown me that there is so much meaning in kindness and service in both your personal and professional life. Dr. Bettger, my research mentor, is incredibly committed to mentoring students at all levels, whether undergraduate or doctoral. She has motivated me to think critically about what this work means to me and what kind of impact I hope to make on the field in the future.

You are soon to leave Duke. How are you feeling about that?

A bit ambivalent. Duke has been a mix of ups and downs and as much as I am ready to leave, the prospect of having to cook for myself is a little scary.

Any plans after graduation?

I will be joining the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for a master’s program in Epidemiology.

What is your favorite place to study on campus?

The edge in Bostock Library.

What is your favorite food?

“Bibimbob” (I think it’s supposed to be bibimbap?) at Ginger & Soy

Did you ever tent for a basketball game at Duke?

No, the hype did not get to me.

Have you been to shooters*?

A few times- yes. 


*Shooters is considered the staple of Duke students’ nightlife.