[Alumni Edition] Andrew Ta’s (’12) IMSA Experience

Old Caf before renovation | Source: Andrew Ta

IMSA is constantly changing. Because of this, clubs, classes, and teachers change over time. However, some things haven’t changed. David Dickson (’24), editor-in-chief for The Acronym, interviewed Andrew Ta (’12) to better understand the progression of the IMSA experience. Andrew Ta was President of Med Society and was involved in Acronym, both of which are still around.

D: First, could you describe your clubs? What did your clubs do on campus? How did they get involved with people? And what did a typical meeting look like? 

A: I was involved in quite a bit…I think the biggest things I did were Acronym, RSL, or community director for 1507. And then I was also a president of Med Society. We hosted various events for all of these clubs here and there, and obviously for human life, it was kind of oriented around the hall. Besides all that, there were all the academic things. So, Science Olympiad and Teams.

“All these clubs, they definitely characterized my experience. And I interacted with a lot of people through them…”

In participating in numerous extracurriculars and clubs, Andrew Ta wanted to streamline and had to apply a lot of skills. Each of the clubs worked differently.


A: At that time there was a very old website. So I introduced a new one…it’s on WordPress and we had the various boards or various editors opinions and features and news. We tried to get people to meet weekly, get staff letters, write articles…There were 12 members. In my senior year, some police cars were on campus for some unauthorized person on campus or there were drugs or something, who knows? And as you see the police, you start thinking: “Oh, I can do something there. That’s a cool event. And then take a picture and immediately post it online.” And back then, Facebook was the go-to social media. It was still very active back then…I mean, I’m sure it’s a little different now…I mean, we would really tried to push things onto social media, tried to get participation and engagement with the audience.

Med Society

D: So this year, the administration that runs or overseas clubs, they’re really trying to like institute, general membership. And so I was wondering if general membership was a big thing at IMSA because I think in the past it was clubs were board-heavy and the board managed everything. But now they’re trying to push towards a general membership concept or idea.

Andrew Ta shared that in his time as President for Med Society, there was not really a concept of general membership and they tried to centralize things. The focus was to have fun and run events and do the most they could with what they had in their senior year.

“In the end, it’s 3 years. I know at that time it really feels big.”

Favorite Memory

D: We are also wondering what was your favorite memory from being in a club or what is one experience that particularly, stands out even now that you did in a club?

A: There are so many. Like I said, we went through so many things, and…people are left engaged [and I enjoyed helping] get people out there. It was really rewarding…My events in academic activities were really fun. For Science Olympiad, we had these invitationals or state or national that we were competing for, and meeting up with people at all times of night to get these things done.All those things individually were little highlights…And they all were very useful going into college and eventually to med school.


D: Now I want to talk a little bit more about your experience outside of club-oriented things. So what did, if you remember,  a typical day at school look? What classes did you take?

A: I’m sure structurally things have changed. We had 20 mods…and some classes took 3 or 4 or 5 mods. We had I-days on Wednesdays…Some people, I think probably the vast majority of people participated. I’m gonna say like, 75% of people did SIR in the city…There were a lot of, a lot of freedom during the day. To go back and forth, to the dorms, we could kind of do whatever on our empty mod. A lot of people stayed in the building in the library or in various locations around the main building. Obviously people took naps everywhere. Classic. I was very guilty every day, after lunch…People met up after all the classes were done they went back to their dorms…then usually [have] a club event [and] study hours, for the sophomores. I was obviously more focused on science and math and finished the biology curriculum.

Andrew Ta’s IMSA schedule | Source: Andrew Ta

Andrew Ta described how he had a friend that joined a financial firm. He expressed that it is really cool what IMSA does for people. Andrew Ta explained that IMSA students always set the curve, making college life a lot more approachable and easier.

“It’s really cool what IMSA can provide some people and I think it comes back to you have to find what interests you and really utilize what IMSA offers and it might be hard to find what exactly it can offer but I think if you are able to take advantage of it, you should.”

Years at IMSA

D: I was wondering how did IMSA’s meaning to you change with every year?

A: I think everyone kind of goes through a similar cycle…the introduction. You are meeting new people. You’re living away from home for the first time. How to navigate all of that. You’re navigating being the new kid on the block, all these seniors look so intimidating and super cool and you try to learn from them. You’re recognizing what IMSA has to offer. You’re learning about SIR. But obviously you haven’t done one yet. You’re really having fun on Wednesdays and on weekends. Learning to tap on, I guess, you can say.

A: Yeah, and learning what opportunities there are in the junior year, right? Things pick up. You have to start thinking about academics and tests and colleges a little bit. But at the same time…you were also accelerating your time and you are starting to participate in these clubs. Recognizing where you might fall short in some areas and how to improve them. You’ve gotten very familiar with your class and the events. You have a under-classman now to show off to and show things to. You still…have a good time I think.

A: And then senior year you’re the big dog. You’re the president…You’re trying to make the most of your time, your last year, you recognize your time…coming to an end, and you hope you have good memories.

A: It was very optimistic during sophomore year,  junior year things got a little grittier. Many more late nights, a lot of long papers you got to stay around for. And then in senior year, the college application game is underway, but at the same time, you really, like I said, are trying to make the most of your time, you feel very, at home at that time. And you know, you’re just trying to have a good time, having to have, have fun. Make memories with friends, that kind of thing.


D: So, I know you talked a little bit about where you went to college and what you did, but how did your experience shape your interest in what you studied in college…? How [did] your learning at IMSA help you?

A: Right. I took my experience into my college search. I looked for a college where I would be able to use a lot of my experience. I picked Rice because of a smaller student body…I joined a lot of the same clubs that I felt like I had expertise in. Of course I tried new things as well… I felt like I had higher expectations of college because of my time at IMSA…I thought like I think I came in almost with the wrong expectations at the college expecting to find that same group easily and quickly. And that wasn’t really the case. For many people, college is their first time living alone, right? But either way, a lot of the skills and knowledge is applicable. [For example] how [statistical analysis] or how to write write  and send email or how to find research opportunities or how to do research.


D: So our next question was about describing your current career. I know you talked about medical school…but could you explain a little bit about why you choose to go down this path and how the biology classes helped you? What is your favorite part of your profession as well?

Andrew Ta described that he is studying anesthesiology and doing research. He has friends that went into finance and they were able to use their experience at IMSA. He remains in contact with all of his IMSA friends and gravitates back to Chicagoland. Andrew Ta detailed that his path was step-wise; he thought about the next step and the overarching plan. He had an interest in medicine.


D: So we wanted to know if you had any advice for current students or graduating seniors.

A: So I think advice for general and for students is you get what you put into it. So really try to make the most of your time at IMSA whatever that means to you. Does that mean spending more time? Late at night having conversations with their friends. Or whether that means. It’ll pay off. You’ll be able to take those skills and keep applying them in college and beyond. For graduating seniors, of course, you know, enjoy the time you have. Make the most of it by going into college, make sure to dial your expectation…don’t lose out or think less of your college experience…[you’re]an expert at residential life and living on [your] own and doing [your] own thing…Go in with wide eyes and eagerness. You can experiment a bit. And I think that that experimentation can help you in college.

One of the most important aspects of IMSA is that it provides “Many, many decades of good friends.”

Thank you, Dr. Andrew Ta, for coming back to IMSA and speaking to students about your experience and good luck on your journey!

About the Author

Michelle Fanjoy
Hey! I am a sophomore at IMSA ('26) and I live in 1503. I enjoy playing tennis and the flute. I also love watching Formula 1, but most importantly, I love writing! I am looking forward to working as a staff writer for The Acronym this year.

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