Q&A: Alice Tao '17, Fellow at the New York Center for Child Development

Feb. 25, 2019

At the time of this Q&A, Alice was working as a Princeton Project 55 Fellow at the New York Center for Child Development (NYCCD), a nonprofit preschool that provides educational and therapeutic services for children with significant developmental delays.  

What do you like most about this position?

Because of my position as the fellow and the interdisciplinary environment at NYCCD, I have been able to explore the diverse fields related to child development, including education, public health and family support. Every day is different, as my projects change and my responsibilities evolve over the school year. I have also learned a lot from my coworkers' diverse experiences and expertise, and they have always welcomed any new ideas I have.

In addition to my network at the organization, I appreciate having another support group through Princeton AlumniCorps. AlumniCorps and the New York Project 55 Committee plan regular seminars, workshops and events for us to learn about other public service sectors, to reflect on our experiences and goals, and to promote our professional and personal development. The additional mentorship and support built into the fellowship definitely helped to ease the post-graduation transition year for me.

What are a few experiences that helped you realize this post-graduation plan was a good first-step for you?

I first learned about the Project 55 Fellowship at the Princeton Fellowships Meetup event hosted by [the Center for Career Development] for students to explore post-graduation work fellowship opportunities offered through Princeton. Throughout my time at Princeton, I have been heavily involved in volunteer programs and outreach activities, so an opportunity to dedicate my post-graduation year to public service really appealed to me. I also contacted a few alumni to hear about their Project 55 experiences, which further convinced me that this would be a great opportunity.

Did any previous work experiences play a part in your decision to pursue this role?

For my junior independent work and senior thesis, I conducted research on the possible molecular and synaptic mechanisms underlying autism. Outside the lab, I had sought opportunities to engage with individuals with developmental conditions and their families to understand and contextualize the challenges they face on a daily basis.

As I plan to pursue medicine in the future, the fellowship at NYCCD offered a chance for me to merge my research background and public service interests and to be involved in the clinical and social applications of the scientific knowledge I had accumulated.