In high school, Ching was heavily involved in the sciences. He took advanced placement courses in every science course that was offered and participated in Science Olympiad, a team competition with participation from elementary, middle and high school teams from around the country. He loved biology, but by the time he arrived at Princeton he realized he had no interest in practicing medicine.
“With ORFE, I saw it as an opportunity to being able to apply quantitative skills to any discipline I wanted, and that’s the flexibility I wanted coming into Princeton,” he says. “So I decided to stick with it, even though I think it is one of the more challenging curriculums.”
His academic load includes courses in health policy, economics and statistics. Ching says one course, called “Probability and Stochastic Systems,” is considered by many ORFE students to be one of the most difficult undergraduate courses offered at Princeton. He ruefully recalls his professor telling students, ‘This class is not meant to make you smarter; it’s meant to make you feel smarter.’
He relished his “Economics of Health and Health Care” course taught by Uwe Reinhardt
, the James Madison Professor of Political Economy. Reinhardt is recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on health care economics.
“Everyone sits in awe,” Ching says about the course. “I think it’s really exciting. You see these people as names in the New York Times, or you see them as faceless authors of columns you can’t really understand, and then you see them lecturing in front of you. It’s only possible because this is Princeton. It can be a little intimidating at first, but I think everyone has to go through that.”
Equally impressive, he says, was his opportunity in a freshman seminar to take a course on environmental policy with Associate Professor Denise Mauzerall
. Before coming to Princeton, Mauzerall was a program manager in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she worked on implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty that protects stratospheric ozone.
“We realized on the second day of class that the course was revised from a Woodrow Wilson School upper-level course,” Ching says. “I learned a lot from that class, and we were really engaged with the professor.”
Outside of the classroom, Ching serves as treasurer of the Taiwanese American Student Association; sits on the Projects Board, which advises the Undergraduate Student Government on which student activities to fund; and is a member of the advisory board of the Davis International Center. He is participating in a Dean of Students initiative called Leadership for Change, which aims to enhance leadership development opportunities on campus, and has been instrumental in designing a semester-break service trip to New Orleans to examine the long-term impact of the Gulf oil spill disaster.