Catherine Lok

2014 & 2015 MCN Conference | Undergraduate University: Miami University, BA

My MCN story:

"I attended the Millennium Campus Conference in 2014 and then I was a discussion leader at the Conference in 2015 at the UN- I loved both experiences.

I loved that everybody wanted to change the world, but that they were "soft" about it. In other words, student leaders at the conferences didn’t just want the title of being a change-maker, they wanted to actually effect ethical and effective change in the communities that they were helping. Student leaders got to know the communities that they were helping via thoughtful and intentional means instead of just "throwing money" at them to "solve a problem."

Another fond memory that I have of the conferences is meeting Dr. Yacoobi, the CEO of the Afghan Institute of Learning. She comes to the conference every year and she was always fascinating to listen to. Everyone was telling me that the things I wanted to do were too dangerous, but the stories that Dr. Yacoobi told really put things into perspective for me. She would tell stories about how the Taliban would come in and she and others would have to pretend that they were reading the Quran while in reality they were teaching science. If they had gotten caught not actually reading the Quran, they could've been in serious jeopardy. But she believed in what she was doing, so she risked her life to do it. Her stories made me feel like it’s actually okay to do work that is considered dangerous, just as long as you truly believe it's meaningful and worth doing."

Today:

"I am currently in medical school. I chose this path because I see a lot of damage that the medical system has done and I want to change that. My philosophy has always been to be 'inside of a building when making change instead of being outside of it and just throwing rocks at the window.' By going to medical school, I chose to be "inside the building." My hope is that through navigating the medical system, I'll better understand it over time and gain the knowledge and credibility to figure out how to change it. Doctors have a lot of power and responsibility, and I want to use my title as a doctor to make impactful, positive change."

Triaging for the traveling clinic

Triaging for the traveling clinic

First Experience with Social Impact:

"My first really huge social impact experience was when I did a medical mission -a medical service trip- to the Solomon Islands. I went with a bunch of doctors and our mission was to serve people in the community. I learned a lot on that trip via mistakes. For instance, I checked people's blood pressure despite not having had the proper medical training. I realized later on that what I did was not ethical, as a nurse without training in the U.S. would not have been able to take someone's blood pressure; if that was the case in the U.S., then that sort of medical procedure should not have been done in the Solomon Islands by me.

Another mistake I made was when I went to the local market and tried to find the best price for a herb via taking notes on each seller and price. I did this so that I could relay the information to other sellers and gauge the best (lowest) price for myself- I didn't want to be taken advantage of. But in doing so I was potentially pitting locals against each other, which was disrespectful and could've been really disruptive to the community.

In the end, what I learned on the trip was a matter of ethics. Just because you are serving someone in the third world doesn’t mean that you can give them a lower standard of care and/or ignore & dismiss their cultural practices. Often times, people do this without meaning to. But MCN has taught me the importance of being ethical when doing all types of social impact work; they've taught me how to avoid being paternalistic."

Peace Program:

"A program that I've started is called the Peace Program. It operates in a place akin to a juvenile justice center, but it's really just a home for kids that have been abused, don’t have anywhere to go, or have been taken in by the State and placed there. I began volunteering there and was tutoring the kids when I soon realized that they didn't need tutoring in math more than they needed peace of mind, peace that they would be safe, peace that they would be loved, peace that they would go to bed and not feel scared. That’s what they really needed. So I started the Peace Program as a result. The program uses evidence-based mindfulness practices that help their day to day mindset. We do yoga, mindfulness & meditation, and more.

I really care about this program and am currently looking to expand it. I think it can become a big thing and would love it if more people joined in on our mission. The program presents a huge opportunity for people to make a difference in a child's life."


*The "quotes" above have been edited for clarity and concison.