Catphuong “Cathy” Vu ‘11

back to profiles page


Name: Catphuong "Cathy" Vu
Job: Fellow with Upenyu Health Group
Current City: Harare, Zimbabwe
School: Princeton - Class of 2011
Major: Molecular Biology
Social Media:


Think about what you want to learn and gain in order to give some direction in your search but also prepare to take on the unexpected as you look for opportunities in what you ideally want to do.

At Princeton

While at Princeton I was mostly involved in civic engagement projects sponsored through the Student Volunteer Council (SVC) or independent groups such as Princeton Disabilities Awareness. These activities not only provided an outlet for my interest in medicine and working with people, especially young children, but also provided me with experiences that were outside the realm of the traditional classroom.

After School

In deciding on plans after Princeton, I wanted to find an opportunity that would further provide me with a more informal exposure to my interest in medicine. As I was also curious to learn more about public health as a possible focus in medicine, I sought out fellowships that would give me a chance to explore, learn, and gain experience in order to better assess my interest before committing to a formal program of study. For this reason, during senior year, I decided to defer my medical school acceptance for a year in order to take on a fellowship with Upenyu Health Group in Zimbabwe.

In my fellowship, I work with a team of other recent college graduates and a principal investigator from the Zimbabwe National Institute of Health Research. Together, we develop and implement a research project targeting health issues and diseases recommended by the Zimbabwean researcher as being most pressing and relevant in the country. Currently, our projects focus primarily on neglected tropical diseases and our work concentrates on rural areas where these diseases are more likely to be endemic.

With Upenyu Health Group, I was attracted to the opportunity of working with a relatively new and thus relatively small NGO in which I can actually contribute to its future direction. Moreover, by living in the country where the research is taking place, I can directly observe and partake in the field work, thus adding further dimension to the analysis of the collected data.

In addition to the introduction to public health research, the experience, more importantly, has challenged me to think more critically about the impact of public health policies on communities and more creatively about how to apply my observations in future global and public health studies and research. As I prepare to transition, the on-the-ground opportunities and lessons from this past year has further focused and prepared me for my first year in medical school.



Previous profile: Catphuong “Cathy” Vu ‘11

Next profile: Emily Rotella '06

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License