Dr. Yi-Ching Ong named director of Service Focus

Yi-Ching Ong, director of service focus
Yi-Ching Ong (photo by Michael Lopez)
Article by Gwen McNamara, LEED AP, Pace Center for Civic Engagement

After conducting a national search, Yi-Ching Ong has been named director of Service Focus, a new Princeton University program designed to bridge service and learning across the first two years of the undergraduate experience.

Service Focus is a collaboration between the Office of the Dean of the College, the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, and the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. Stemming from the University’s recent strategic planning process, the program builds on Princeton’s commitment to help students address critical human needs and pressing societal challenges. Through Service Focus, students will complete a summer service internship, take a service-related course, and engage with faculty and peers to learn what it means to be “in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.”

“It is an honor and a delight to join this new program,” said Ong. “We hope to offer a transformative experience to students, and I look forward to working with partners across the university and community to build this program and further connect Princeton’s deep and diverse strengths in research and higher education with its commitment to service and civic engagement.”

Ong comes to Service Focus from the University’s Global Health Program, where she is an associate research scholar and lecturer. Prior to Princeton she was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University. 

Ong holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Stanford University, a Master of Philosophy degree in development studies from Oxford University, and a Bachelor of the Arts in biochemical sciences from Harvard University. Her educational philosophy is to “challenge students to think carefully about how research and theory can address and be informed by community needs, and to creatively envision appropriate responses and interventions to complex problems.”

Ong will represent Service Focus on campus and in the community and she will set the strategic agenda for the Service Focus learning experience. Ong will report to Kimberly de los Santos, the Pace Center’s John C. Bogle ’51 and Burton G. Malkiel *64 executive director, and be in partnership with Karen Krahulik, senior associate dean for International Programs and Experiential Learning in Office of the Dean of the College. Before starting full time on May 22, she will split her time between Service Focus and the Global Health Program while she finishes teaching a seminar on planetary health and advising students’ senior theses. Ong’s office will be in the Pace Center’s Frist Campus Center location.

To learn more about Service Focus visit focus.princeton.edu.