Snapshot of VPS grad success: Ann Kao

In 1992, Ann Kao was a senior at Hudson’s Bay High School and a National Merit Scholar, placing her among the top 2,000 high school seniors in the United States. At Bay, Kao edited the school’s newspaper and was involved in Knowledge Bowl, student government, swimming and gymnastics. She also played violin in the Vancouver Youth Symphony, Portland Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and Washington All-State Orchestra. She hoped to major in medicine at Stanford University.

Fast forward to 2018, and Dr. Ann Kao is flourishing in the medical field. Recently, we caught up with her to learn about her career and asked her to reflect on her time in Vancouver schools.

College degrees

  • Bachelor of Science, intensive double major in biology and international studies, Yale University
  • Doctor of Medicine with honors, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Master of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Current job title/employer

  • Co-unit chief, Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine, MassGeneral Hospital for Children
  • Attending physician, internal medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Favorite K-12 moment, class or teacher that prepared her for her current occupation

Being an academic hospitalist in a big teaching hospital requires a lot of different skills, many of which I gathered along the way in my time in Vancouver Public Schools. I learned teamwork and perseverance from the sports I was involved in; leadership from Model U.N. and student government (Mrs. Duncan, Mr. Hoover); how to discuss difficult topics and interview anyone from my time in journalism at the Bay Window (Mrs. Anderson); and, most importantly, love of learning and how to be a good teacher from multiple teachers, including Mrs. Simonds in 5-6 grade at Truman [Elementary], Mr. Robb in math and Mr. Loucks in chemistry at Hudson’s Bay.

Advice she would give to today’s students

There’s no one-size-fits-all advice or roadmap to life, and everyone faces their own unique sets of challenges. There are a few clichés, however, that I have found to hold true. Most worthwhile goals require tremendous persistence, sacrifice and hard work. There will be boredom, disappointment and difficulties along the way, and you will need to have the internal fortitude to persist through it all. Look everywhere for opportunities to learn. Get out from behind your screens and have real conversations face to face! Surround yourself with friends that challenge you, support you and push you to be the best version of yourself. Be that kind of friend.