Marie Gerges, a physics in medicine and Chinese major, received the Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in East Asian Studies during a graduation ceremony on May 19 that honored students earning degrees from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC).
A resident of Pittsburgh, Gerges studied Chinese for four years in high school and became interested in Chinese culture after reading books by Chinese American authors, such as Amy Tan and Grace Lin. She was also motivated to study Chinese by her cousins in Egypt, who could speak several foreign languages proficiently.
In addition to Chinese classes, Gerges served as an emcee for several Chinese department events, including the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese Speech Contest. She proactively participated in activities promoting Chinese study. She worked with students to establish the Chinese Language and Culture Club and helped organize the Chinese Food Festival and Foreign Language Fair.
During her junior year, Gerges gave a speech comparing the American and Chinese college application processes and earned first place in Notre Dame’s 2022 Chinese Speech Contest and third place in the 2022 Midwest Chinese Speech Contest.
Outside the Chinese program, Gerges worked in Professor Badih Assaf’s physics lab and Professor Crislyn D’Souza-Schorey’s cell biology lab. She also served as an undergraduate TA for cell biology.
During the summer before her senior year, Gerges volunteered at a hospital in Pittsburgh, which gave her an opportunity to connect her language skills and medical experience. As she was speaking with a patient in English, he told her he had to call his wife to translate. When Gerges heard him speak Chinese on the phone, she told him she could speak Chinese and repeated her questions in Chinese. The patient was both surprised and relieved.
Next year, Gerges will work as a research assistant in a kidney transplant lab at the University of Pittsburgh. She has said that the critical thinking and communication skills she has developed as a Chinese major will help her in medical school and as a doctor.