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Give to Recognize Your Wise Guide

To Cross Finish Line, Alumnus Credits Commitment and Kindness 


Sophia Lo and her husband Hunter Chen at her dissertation presentation

Earning a doctorate is a journey for the brave of heart. The intrepid candidate must navigate a complicated route with countless yellow lights, stop signs, and confusing signposts before stepping across the dais in their new academic robes. Sophia Lo, PhD ’10, MHS ’02, and her husband, Hunter Chen, who earned PhD and MSE degrees from the Whiting School of Engineering in 2009 and 2002, respectively, each put in plenty of hard work traveling that path—she in health, behavior and society and he in biomedical engineering. They both can attest to the importance of having good guides—their advisers—at their sides.

When Sophia’s adviser, Peg Ensminger, announced her retirement earlier this year, Sophia and Hunter decided to double their annual contribution to the School to help endow the educational fund that the Department of Health, Behavior and Society set up in Peg’s honor.

For Sophia and Hunter, this decision was more than a token of appreciation. They wanted to recognize Peg’s generosity of spirit and time when Sophia worked as Peg’s advisee. In fact, Sophia credits Peg’s approachable style and personal kindnesses with making a huge difference in her master’s and doctoral journey. “She helped me with both the academic and social aspects of the program, and made it easier,” Sophia shared in a recent phone call. Remembering a lovely dinner he and Sophia had at Peg’s home “in the woods, almost like a retreat,” Hunter remarked that compassionate and supportive advisers helped them “both keep our sanity, through the whole PhD process at Hopkins, because it’s a marathon.”

Sophia Lo and Hunter Chen with their young son

The couple also believes that recognizing Peg’s generosity and the School’s support (Sophia was a Johnson & Johnson Community Scholar) is an important life lesson for their young son. Education is vital for them and their families, and a student’s successful journey involves many people along the way—paying it back truly does mean paying it forward.

In this season of pomp and circumstance, as many soon-to-be master’s and doctoral students reflect on all they have accomplished, they undoubtedly will remember those who helped them along the way. Consider making a gift to the Bloomberg School to recognize your wise guide.


Suzanne Flinchbaugh is a writer with JHSPH Office of External Affairs. For more information about making a gift to support doctoral education, the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, or the Margaret Ensminger Educational Fund, please contact Morgan Martin, Associate Director of Development at