Alumni Spotlight - Patrick Zhou '06
Patrick Zhou is a 2006 graduate of Lexington Christian Academy. After graduating from LCA, Patrick went on to Boston College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree (double majoring in Biology and Theology) and his master’s degree (in Theology with a concentration in bioethics). Patrick moved to Washington, DC in September 2011, to work for a government contractor at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Rare Diseases Program. Since 2012, he has been assigned as the lead analyst on an independent assessment of FDA’s new drug approval process.
He joined the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at the Georgetown University Medical Center as part-time faculty in 2013, instructing two courses in clinical ethics. He also presented a poster at the 2012 DIA/NORD Rare Diseases Conference in Washington, DC and co-authored an abstract published in the Drug Information Journal that same year.
Do you look back at any particular experience at LCA that shaped who you are?
There is a magnet on my refrigerator with a verse borrowed from Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” I got this magnet back in high school. At the end of junior or senior year, Mrs. Elliott, our English teacher, handed out homemade magnets to the class, with each student receiving their own handpicked quote. I’ve kept mine everywhere I’ve lived since.
I adored the ambiguity. “Difference” isn’t good or bad—it’s different; maybe the road less traveled leads to a beautiful town, maybe it leads off a cliff. Either way, it’s always given me a little courage at each fork in life. I’m not sure if Mrs. Elliott ever meant for it to make such an impact, or if she was prescribing or describing, but—for better or for worse—I don’t shy away from the road less traveled and it still makes all the difference.
How did LCA shape your faith?
LCA was a great place for me to nurture and explore my faith (which was brand new to me at the time) in a place that was so welcoming. I was encouraged when I needed encouragement, and challenged when I needed growth. From the friendships, to the coaches, from the faculty to the staff, it was a great place for me to prepare my faith for everything that was to come afterwards. I am so grateful for that. Many people are shocked when I tell them that I still have a dozen or so friends from high school (and even live with two LCA alum right now in DC!) but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How does your faith shape your work-life?
If faith is the sort of thing that’s important to you, you really can’t shake God’s meddling in every part of your life, can you? On a small scale, day-to-day, I would say that faith has granted me an empathy and patience that I wouldn’t have otherwise. At work, most people have a lot of stress going on in their lives, outside of our own interactions with them, and a little compassion goes a long way in not reacting defensively if someone else is having a bad day (or week, or month). It helps me to maintain a positive attitude to propel the team/work forward. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that compassion and grace is helpful in the workplace.
On a large-scale, the Kingdom of God is always tucked away in my heart somewhere. I’d like to think that, no matter what my profession or source of income will be, the actual work of my life will follow Christ’s, in ardent pursuit to welcome and heal the weak and vulnerable—and that can take many forms. After all, it is not the healthy who need the doctor but the sick. For me, there’s no better and sustainable motivation than that.
What other things are you involved with?
In addition to my day-job, I’ve served as a volunteer basketball coach at Columbia Heights Recreation Center for 3.5 years, as part of my church’s ministry. The Rec center is located on a street block in DC that, over the past years, has been notorious for its violent crime and gangs. I have prayed more in and about that neighborhood than I can put into words. It has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life.
In my own mind, when I think of someone being “successful”, I tend to think of someone who has control and direction over his or her life—where ambition is met with achievement. At the Rec center, for so many reasons, I am stripped of all that control. There is nothing to achieve. There are only relationships to build. And in those moments, when I really have no clue what to do, I rely the most on God. Everywhere else, I can fool myself into thinking that I have some power here and there, but in this place, I am vulnerable and I need to trust God the most. It is both humbling and refreshing. I am prouder of my church’s work there than anything else I’ve accomplished.