The Paly Voice recently did an article about me. As a former Viking, Paly journalism never fails to make me proud! Great job on the article, Hannah and Jen!
From Lab Coat to Pageant Crown
Paly graduate claims title of Miss Taiwan World 2010
posted October 25, 2010
Sarah Yeh Liu
Last year’s Miss Taiwan, Kaisarine Su, crowns Paula Wu as Miss Taiwan World 2010.
At 11 p.m., long after her scheduled working hours, the newly-crowned Miss Taiwan World 2010 Paula Wu can still be found in her lab at the National Institute of Health in Maryland pursuing her passion for research.
“I love staying here [NIH] late studying because I feel like the research I’m doing can really make a difference,” Wu, a 2007 Palo Alto High School graduate, said. “I’m here late, but I’m happy.”
Wu, a current senior at the University of California, Los Angeles, took a week-long break from her summer scientific research at the NIH to participate in — and win — the Miss Taiwan World 2010 competition, which was held last August and based in Los Angeles.
“I was sitting around one day, and I thought, ‘You’re only young once, so why not?’” Wu said. “It was different from my usual line of duty in neuroscience, but it was really fun.”
To apply, Wu submitted an application, requiring a head shot and a full-body shot, an essay and a resume. With her strong application, Wu qualified for the semifinalist stage of the contest.
Wu joined more than 100 other semifinalists from North America, Taiwan, Japan and Brazil for her first pageant. Several of the other girls had pageant experience and most had arrived in Los Angeles three weeks before the competition began. Wu, on the other hand, said that she had only one day on-site to prepare, as her internship inhibited her from traveling earlier.
“I wasn’t able to attend the preparation since I was in Maryland interning at the National Institute of Health,” Wu said. “I prepared on my own by reading books and online articles, rehearsing my speech and watching and analyzing videos of other pageants.”
For the first section of the pageant, Wu and the other semifinalists each had one minute to introduce themselves to the judges and audience. They then had another minute to describe any place in Taiwan important to them. Wu chose to talk about her memory of the college that both of her parents attended, the National Taiwan University of Taipei.
“I wanted to choose something that was personal and meaningful and would stand out and show personality,” Wu said.
The last segment of the pageant consisted of answering a question given to the semifinalists ahead of time.
“I tried to bring the best I had to the pageant night,” Wu said about the grand finale of the pageant on Aug. 14.
And she did, by claiming the Miss Taiwan World 2010 title.
“I was so surprised!” Paula Wu said after the winning announcement. “I would never have thought that this would ever happen. I see it as a blessing and opportunity from God.”
Now, as Miss Taiwan, Wu’s duties involve promoting Taiwanese culture and attending celebrations.
Originally, Wu planned to travel to Taiwan for its Independence Day on Oct. 10 to participate in a parade, meet the president and attend dinners and celebrations. However, after coming down with a fever, Wu canceled her plans and will reschedule the trip to a later date in the upcoming winter or spring.
Courtesy of WCBSUR conference
Paula Wu speaks at the West Coast Undergraduate Biological Sciences Research Conference in 2009 about her research on the neural function of the insular cortex.
During her time at Paly, Wu was involved in various school clubs.
As a junior in high school, Wu was president of the tennis club, vice president of Math Club and an active member of both Youth Community Service and the debate team. As a senior, Wu was president of the Paly Christian Club and continued her staff position on Verde Magazine.
Before discovering the field of research in college, Wu remembers exploring different academic subjects.
“In high school I was still trying to figure out what my interests were academically,” Wu said. “I really liked math and I was vice president of Math Club for a year, and I used to wear shirts that said ‘Pi’ and I’d celebrate ‘Pi Day’ with everyone. I also became interested in biology, but I wasn’t really sure about what I wanted to do until I found research.”
Wu describes research as a creative process because one can come up with questions and spend time solving the questions through different applications of methodology, which can then be applied to real life. After graduating from UCLA, Wu plans to return to the NIH and pursue a MD/Ph.D. dual degree program, also called the medical science training program.
Now, at the NIH, Wu studies how changes in the blood flow to the brain can change the magnetic resonance imaging signal. with With this knowledge, she is learning how to use MRI to study such conditions as strokes, sleep apnea and congenital central hypo-ventilation syndrome.
“There’s been so much to do,” Wu said. “That’s what I love about being here [NIH], there’s so much to do in a good way.”
As Miss Taiwan World 2010, Wu plans to use her title to help others and possibly incorporate her studies into her service.
“I’m really excited with my new findings, my research, the things I want to do with Miss Taiwan and the people I want to serve,” Wu said. “It’s just a really exciting place to be right now, being able to dream.”
For a glimpse into Paula Wu’s Miss Taiwan pageant night and her work click here.