Honors Alumni Spotlight

"My Honors faculty mentor encouraged me to face new challenges."

Calista Siobhan Ming
B.S. in Biology | Class of 2012

Born and raised in Guyana, South America, Calista Siobhan Ming has helped make a difference in many lives. She moved to Berkeley, California, to pursue a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree at the University of California.

At Berkeley, Ming joined an organization called Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH). During her first winter break, she participated in a VOSH mission to Nicaragua where 16 students and six optometrists provided eye care to more than 2,500 Nicaraguans.

Soon after, Ming was elected president of the Berkeley VOSH chapter. Her first initiative was to plan a mission to her home country, Guyana. During the summer of 2013, Ming and five other students and a professor worked in conjunction with local Caribbean students and optometrists to provide eye care to more than 600 Guyanese.

“Dr. Song Gao, my mentor at NSU, always encouraged me to face new challenges and was instrumental in my decision to go to Berkeley,” Ming said.

“Siobhan Ming embodies the characteristics of an outstanding college student—curiosity sparks, scholastic excellence, dedication to hard work, and a strong sense of civic responsibility,” said Song Gao, Ph.D., associate professor at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography.

“It was remarkable to watch her striving for a balance in coursework, research projects, campus activities, and community services. Collectively, this guided her in reaching for her career goal: using the best science and technology in health sciences to help those in need. Siobhan encountered many challenges, but she was never deterred from trying her best to overcome the obstacles—whether analyzing complicated data sets in the NSU laboratories, or working under the scorching sun in the Caribbean collecting aerosol samples. When audacity meets with persistence and dedication, it comes as no surprise that a student accomplishes her or his goals and matures into a well-grounded citizen. I am very pleased to see that Siobhan continues to succeed in so many endeavors. She is an exemplary student from our Honors Program,” Gao said.

“My inspiration to pursue optometry stems from my roots," Ming said. "Guyana is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and good healthcare is scarce. I helped organize a mission to Nicaragua—this time with 21 students including myself and eight doctors. In four days, we were able to provide care to more than 3,000 Nicaraguans.”

“My work with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) is something I wish to continue throughout my academic years and also when I am a practicing doctor.”

Ming is scheduled to conduct a clinical rotation at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida, in early 2016. She expects to graduate from UC-Berkeley in spring 2016.