Joey Wilson

My Education


PHD | Oncology

Tsinghua University

MA | Global Affairs

Clemson University

BS | Bioengineering


Clemson University

Bioengineering Research Assistant

Joseph Wilson is passionate about three fields that mainly govern our world: business, science, and politics. Joey earned a B.S. in Bioengineering from Clemson University's Calhoun Honors College and an MSc in Global Affairs from Tsinghua University as a Schwarzman Scholar. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Oncology at the University of Cambridge. Joey served as Clemson's Student Body President, conducted six years of lab-based research, filed a provisional patent for a cancer-treatment device, and earned multiple national honors, including the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship. Outside studying, Joey loves traveling, trying new foods, dancing, drinking coffee with friends, and playing sports.

3 Tips for crafting your personal Narrative

Pay Attention to the Prompt: A few of the most common difficulties in crafting a personal statement are interrelated. They are organizing your essay, meeting word limits, and personalizing the piece for the specific program, school, and application. How can you solve these at one time? The most efficient, intuitive, and easiest way is to examine the prompt and make sure you address it. Frequently, the prompt provides a framework by which you can structure your essay. If you create a detailed outline using the questions from the prompt and bullet point answers from experiences on your resume, you’ve already jumpstarted your writing, ensured you won’t forget anything, and have guaranteed that you will write a piece tailored to the application at hand.

Apply Your Why: Your personal statement should show mainly show your why – otherwise known as your drive, your passion, your dream, etc. First, you should define success for yourself and think about what gives you fulfillment in life. Is it helping others? Is it a sense of innovation and discovery? Is it something else? Secondly, you should “apply your why” by taking these ideas regarding success and fulfillment and weaving your narrative using your outline. Try to follow the pattern of “why, how, and lastly what” in your piece. Do your best to show qualities and traits about yourself in your story instead of telling the readers directly.

Talk About Your Uniqueness in Detail: You’re a special individual and you’re undoubtedly unique! Your why and your overall story can be memorable and influential if you tell it the right way. The best step to doing this is by choosing a few experiences and talking about them in detail (instead of presenting every experience from your resume with little detail). This helps show instead of telling. Why did you do something? How did it change you or inspire you? How did it lead you to your next journey in your story? What did you do that was special? What was the result?

By following these tips, I think you can write something that shows a lot about your story and is tailored perfectly for your (successful) application! Good luck!

Q:  Why are you passionate about your academic field? When and how did you discover your love of your subject?  

Some people think that Bioengineering and Global Affairs seem divergent, but really, I believe they go together. Rudolf Virchow, a German doctor and politician, introduced the idea that both medicine and politics are trying to solve the maladies of man, just at different levels. I actually find this to be true - the scientific method and the public policy process are really two names for almost the same thing. I love these fields because they both require innovation, creativity, and a passion for helping people – and I discovered my love for them in high school when I had the opportunity to conduct bioengineering research at Clemson University on a project building a glucometer system for the developing world! Don’t be afraid to combine fields! Whether you love science, business, or politics – I think I’d be a great mentor for you!

Q:  What are your three top recommendations for a student targeting a masters in your field? What if they are preparing to switch their major to your field?  

If you want to get a masters in bioengineering, you should: Remember that the field is both theoretical and practical – focus on (research) projects that give you real experience and enable you to apply the concepts you’ve learned. Not worry about making mistakes – in engineering and in science in general, mistakes are how researchers learn and sometimes how breakthroughs are had! (Ever heard the story of the discovery of x-ray or the creation of industrial rubber?) Look at programs carefully – different schools have different programs, both taught and research-based, that focus on everything from translational medicine to orthopedics, etc! If you want to switch your major to bioengineering, you should: Examine your long-term plan and goals to ensure that bioengineering is the right path – there are many engineering fields and each offers something very different! Identify professors who have research that you’re interested in and reach out to them by email! Try to work with them in their lab on projects to gain experience and contribute your skills to a meaningful project – this really enhances your learning. Analyze your credits and, especially if some are non-transferrable to bioengineering, consider keeping your old major as a minor. Any field combined with engineering sets you apart and makes you more versatile.

Q:  What resources can students use to educate themselves on your subject?  

For Bioengineering specifically, the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) lists a lot of great resources on their website – If you want to learn more about engineering and related-fields, at least from an academic curriculum standpoint, I highly recommend any videos from Khan Academy, which is a free, online resource center that provides training and instruction for almost any course you would encounter!

Q:  What are your top tips to showcase an applicant  

To show your strengths effectively to the Admissions Officers: Detail what you’ve done and go in-depth about what you’re passionate about Focus on experiences and what you’ve gained from them, not just accolades Present yourself as a well-rounded person that is multidimensional – with all parts of your application, think like you’re painting a self-portrait. Pick stories and recommenders that create your personal narrative and emphasize your positive traits! Be honest and try to ensure that each aspect supports you without overlapping.

Q:  Any pitfalls or mistakes an applicant should be aware of as they apply to your program?  

Generally, I think a lot of applicants try to impress by listing a lot of things they did instead of going in depth about a few meaningful things that they’re passionate about! More detail and depth regarding a few things is much better than shallow discussions of numerous activities. Specifically for engineering, test scores and grades matter, but never underestimate the power of research experience, publications, and extracurriculars!

Q:  Why did you apply to your university and program? What other universities and programs were you admitted to?  

For my undergraduate education, I looked for a school with a well-regarded engineering program and a well-rounded student experience. I eventually chose Clemson University’s Calhoun Honors College for a B.S. in Bioengineering – as it was not too far away from home, they offered me close to a full-scholarship, and they have one of the oldest bioengineering programs in the United States and offer a fantastic student experience! I was also admitted to Georgia Tech, Cornell University, the Colorado School of Mines, and the University of South Carolina (with a full scholarship). For graduate school, I was named a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University where I studied for a Master’s of Management Science in Global Affairs. Certainly, Tsinghua is one of the best universities in China and the world, but many aspects of it appealed, including the beautiful campus, the vibrant student body, and the school’s history. After that, I wanted to move back to science. I was admitted to both Stanford University and John Hopkins University for a masters in Bioengineering, but ultimately chose to attend the University of Cambridge (St. John’s College) for a Ph.D. in Oncology because of the relationship and project with my mentor researching nanoparticles for lung cancer and because I was offered a full scholarship known as the Cambridge International Scholarship!

Q:  What are the common career paths for graduates in your field?  

Engineering is one of the most dynamic and versatile fields out there. There are various career paths that people frequently undertake after an education in bioengineering, such as:

  • Academics (Professors) or Researchers
  • Industry Professionals (Medical Device Development, Project Managers, Sales)
  • Medical Doctors (Surgeons, Dentists, Orthodontists, Nurses, etc)
  • Lawyers (specifically patent law or intellectual property law)
  • Consultants

Bioengineers frequently seek further education after earning their undergraduate degree through attending business school, law school, medical school, or a doctoral program.

Q:  What aspects of the campus culture are your favorites? Which aspects surprised you? Which would you change if you could?  

At Clemson University, I love all the traditions. The campus and community are truly a family. People are welcoming. Love for the school and school spirit is amazingly prevalent and sustained at a high level! It is hilly on campus, so people say that there is “Something in these hills.” They’re right. Clemson has always felt like home to me. I was surprised how academically rigorous the Honors College was and how many opportunities they offered. Every summer, I received grants to travel abroad for various experiences. Actually, I taught English at Tsinghua University the summer after my first year! I wish Clemson had a larger international student population; however, that is something the university is actively working on. So you should definitely put it on your list, especially if you’re interested in engineering!

Q:  What is your favorite fun fact about your university? Any special events or traditions or legends?  
  • Clemson University – Our football team won the National Championship when I was Student Body President! We have been consistently nationally ranked in the “Top Five” for football and “Top Twenty-Five” for public universities – so we’re well-rounded!
  • Tsinghua University – Many current and former leaders of China, including Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao, attended Tsinghua! Also, Tsinghua’s 50,000 students far outnumber the amount of people – 2,500 – living in my hometown, Duncan, South Carolina…
  • Cambridge University – I’m a member of St. John’s College, which is one of the oldest and most traditional. Our “May Ball” (or end of year party) was ranked seventh best in the world by Time Magazine!
Q:  How did you spend your summer vacation during university? Any advice for making the most of summer?  

I always spent summers abroad doing something that I found interesting! I took advantage of grants offered by my university and actually got paid to travel, conduct research, and gain experience. I spent time in China, Singapore/Southeast Asia, the Balkans (Serbia, Croatia, Montengro, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania), and Western Europe doing everything from teaching English to Bioengineering and Political Science research! I recommend making the most of summer by both searching for and applying for opportunities (and scholarships/grants) through your university early, reaching out to teachers and mentors for suggestions, and doing anything that you can to gain experience in something that you’re passionate about!

Q:  What makes you smile? Share more on a favorite hobby.  

I am a jack of all trades and passionate about a ton of things. However, one of my favorites is dance. I’m a semi-professional swing dancer and teach shag dance (which is the state dance of South Carolina). Wherever I go, I take my moves and my positivity and try to teach people how to do these dances. It’s all about flipping, dipping, and spinning. I think dance is one of the coolest expressions of cultures and one of the most beautiful things, aside from food, that you can share with other people!

Q:  Why are you excited to mentor Dyad Scholars?  

There’s a famous TED Talk where the speaker claims that every individual is the combination of the five people they spend the most time with. I disagree. I believe that an individual is really the combination of the five people who have impacted someone most. The key? Impact on someone’s life is not time dependent. This really inspires me. Mentors have had a drastic, positive impact on my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their wisdom, advice, and influence. I’m inspired to give back and hopefully change talented students’ lives for the better! Both my mission and purpose in life largely reside in giving back and making a difference in people’s lives – through innovation, through creativity, and through people-to-people relationships. This is why I’m excited to mentor you all – the Dyad Scholars.