Ka Pou “Emily” Iong, MLS(ASCP)CM
, was in a freshman biology class
at De Anza College, Cupertino, Calif., when she conducted an experiment to
amplify her DNA during a polymerase chain reaction.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh! I found my own gene!’ It was so cool,” recalls
Ms. Iong, a native of Macau, who came to the United States as a college
freshman eight years ago.
“I know that I am helping to save a life. Every time I work on
a specimen, I know there is a life behind it. I want to get the word
out to young people about these careers because I feel that
laboratory professionals play a vital role in patient care.”
—Ka Pou “Emily” Iong, MLS(ASCP)CM
From that point on, she was hooked on laboratory science. Today, she is a
medical laboratory scientist in the blood bank at the University of
California–Davis Health System, Sacramento, Calif.
As a 2012–2013 ASCP Career Ambassador, she enthusiastically shares her
love for the field of laboratory medicine with high school students in her
“I love blood banking,” Ms. Iong says. “It’s like a roller coaster ride.
It gets very intense sometimes, especially when we are dealing with trauma
cases. We have to be very efficient, be able to multi-task, and make sure we
give patients the correct blood products within one or two minutes of their
“I know that I am helping to save a life. Every time I work on a
specimen, I know there is a life behind it. I want to get the word out to
young people about these careers because I feel that laboratory
professionals play a vital role in patient care.”
When Ms. Iong visits high school classrooms, she engages students in
interactive science experiments, such as having students streak their
fingers across a culture plate to show how bacteria grow.
“They like it a lot and ask questions about how I got into the program,
what my career path has been, and how many years of training I needed,” she
explains. “A lot of them say they never really knew about this field.”
In fact, Ms. Iong learned about the profession quite by chance, as well.
During college, she was hired for an internship in a laboratory, working on
molecular biology experiments. After college, she got a job at the
University of California–Davis Mind Institute, where she developed a genetic
screening testing on Fragile X Syndrome on newborns. During that time, she
learned about a training program the University offered in clinical
laboratory science. She enrolled and obtained her certification last year.
Today, she is letting other students know how rewarding her career is.
Her employer has been supportive of her outreach activities.
“An articulate, dedicated, and hard-working ambassador like Emily is a good
representative for the high quality of students we are trying to attract,”
says Lydia Pleotis Howell, MD,
FASCP, Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the
University of California–Davis Health System. “She puts forward a bright and
positive face to the community, and demonstrates the essential human element
that is critical to high-quality laboratory testing.”
ASCP is now accepting applications for the 2013–2014
Career Ambassador Program. The deadline for to submit application is
June 11. For an application, click
ASCP Career Ambassador Program is generously sponsored by Roche, one of the world’s leading research-oriented healthcare groups with core business in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.