Nathan Jia ('16) stays incredibly busy in New York City, completing his medical school residency in orthopedics at any of the nine hospitals run by the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Those who meet him there and hear about his parents’ journey from China to the U.S. are not surprised, given the largest U.S. city is known as a melting pot. They are surprised, however, that Jia came to NYU from Oklahoma Christian University.
"I feel like there's no way it wasn't a higher power that is working here," Jia said. “It’s not my own doing that got me here."
According to Jia, that path began before he was born, through love demonstrated by Christians working at OC and attending the Memorial Road Church of Christ.
The Skaggs family and many others truly welcomed my family when they moved to the U.S.,” Jia said. “My parents really had nothing when they arrived, and that kindness was key to them becoming Christians.”
Jia’s dad, Dr. Greg Jia, who was a hand surgeon in China, came to the U.S. because the college he worked at had a relationship with the Oklahoma University Medical School. Jia’s mom, Mary, is also from China, but his parents first met in Oklahoma and married just six months later.
“It was a Memorial Road ministry, helping them at that point in their lives, that led to them becoming Christians,” Jia said.
His family soon moved to Woodward, Oklahoma, where Jia’s dad served as a doctor. When it came time for college, Jia knew where he wanted to go.
“Among all the colleges in-state, picking OC was a no-brainer,” he said. “The faith community was great, but the influential professors were amazing. After medical school, I realized even more how good an academic education I had. My professors did a great job of not just reaching us, but also motivating us to learn on our own.”
While it may seem that Jia was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps as a doctor, he said that’s not true.
“I definitely felt pressure to be a doctor, since that’s what my dad did,” he said. “So, that was the last thing I wanted to do in high school.
“At OC, I realized that I only resisted because so many expected me to do it. I liked biology and science, and I fell in love with everything about it. It was what I was meant to do. When I stopped resisting, it really became a positive snowball.”
Once Jia committed to a pre-medical school degree, he got to work graduating in just three years. He attributes this as one of the positive benefits of studying at OC.
“I had a close group of friends who were competitive and pushed each other to get the best grade,” Jia said. “If I didn’t do well, I knew I would have to look my buddy in the eye and admit he did better than me, and I didn’t want that. None of us did, and it was great.”
That competitive experience also helped pave the way for Jia’s success in medical school.
“I wanted to explore the world a little more,” Jia said. “NYU had a 3-year program, and I could start my specialty residency program a year earlier than most schools.”
Knowing Jia’s story, it’s not surprising that he gives others credit for his success.
“I think it has to do with my family and church,” he said. “My parents worked so hard for me to be successful. It feels like someone is watching over me.”
Of course, Jia does know that success also comes from hard work.
“One of the parables I really like is the farmer and the field,” he said. “You can pray all day long, but you have to work the field, too. I pray that He looks out for me, but I know I have to do the work, too.”
Jia also recommends that OC students who want to follow his path stay connected to what’s important.
“It’s good to look forward, but it’s also good to appreciate what you have,” he said. “Personal success would mean nothing if I didn’t have my family.”
At OC, we’re blessed to provide our students with the tools they need to succeed in health care. Like Nathan Jia, our alumni are career ready after graduation, prepared to change lives and make a difference in the industry as they pursue their story and God’s purpose. To learn more about our Biology program with a pre-med emphasis, click here.