Carol Wang: Journalist Returns to Her Roots 3/14/16 03/13/16 11:40:13 PM
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The daughter of a physician father and nurse mother, this first-generation, Chinese-American found her home away from home when she changed careers to become executive director of MOMS.
– Photo Courtesy of Carol Wang
Journalist Returns to Her Roots as
Executive Director of Metro Omaha Medical Society
By Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record
Carol Wang developed an interest in the news from an early age.
“My family got the newspaper every day, and we watched the news at the dinner table,” she said. “We always knew what was going on. My parents were big news consumers, and I grew up with that as a part of my life.”
Wang was born in Washington, and grew up in the suburbs of Seattle. “My parents are both immigrants,” she said. “They met on a blind date in Chicago.”
Originally from Mainland China, her relatives immigrated to Taiwan to escape the communists, she said. Her father came to the U.S. for graduate school, where he focused on entomology. Her mother is a nurse. And her grandfather was a doctor. “He spoke Japanese,” she said. “He went to medical school in Japan.”
With so many relatives in the medical field, as well as in academia, Wang was encouraged to pursue a degree in accounting or in the legal field, but she had other ideas – she was interested in journalism.
“I was very lucky, because my parents always encouraged me to be independent,” she said. “They say that I ran away for college – I went to Boston University, which was the furthest away from Washington.”
After earning her bachelor of science in broadcast journalism from BU, she traveled and did consulting.
“I was a print reporter at the paper my parents read,” Wang said. “I got freelance work there. I decided to apply to graduate school, and went to Northwestern University. I was hired in Topeka. I worked in Wichita and then moved to Dallas. I worked in the I-35 corridor.”
When she was in Texas, Wang was recruited by KMTV Channel 3. When she was in Texas, Wang was recruited by KMTV Channel 3, where she served as an anchor from 2007 until 2012. She worked at KETV for less than a year thereafter, and then in 2013 she made a career change: Wang became the executive director for the Metro Omaha Medial Society (MOMS).
“I love television news and telling stories, but it’s a difficult thing, because you have to be there when the news happens,” said Wang. “It’s hard to have a life. When I was at KMTV, I was there Monday through Friday from noon to midnight. When I worked the morning show in Dallas, my alarm was set for 2:15 a.m., and by 7 p.m. I was in bed. My husband moved around for my career. He managed the house while I was gone.
“It gets more difficult as you get older. You think about what you are giving up. It was wearing on me. I wanted more balance in my life.”
Getting her current job was all about “timing,” she said. “The executive director was retiring, and they were asking different people for suggestions. I sat on a lot of non-profit boards, so my name came up.
“I have a lot of admiration for physicians. My grandfather was a small town physician and my grandmother was his nurse. I remember the bell would ring in the middle of the night. I have vivid memories of me peeking through the bannister, seeing what was going on. This was in Taiwan. I would, as a child, spend a month at a time with them. When I was a teenager, they came to Seattle. I have an understanding of that life and, in this job, I have gained even more respect and admiration for physicians and the health care industry.”
Since 1866, the Metro Omaha Medical Society has been a professional organization of physicians. It is dedicated to helping them serve as patient advocates; promoting the ethics and the art and science of the profession of medicine; serving as physician advocates; ensuring access to quality health care; and improving the general health of the community. Wang’s job is to lead, to educate, to problem solve, and to bring awareness to health issues.
“Our foundation gives out grants and I help determine where the money should go,” Wang explained. “I get to read proposals. We have funded medical equipment, and a truck garden for City Sprouts.
“We went to Metropolitan Community College where we wanted to help families in poverty. Single moms take classes to move up in the workplace, but we found that one of their biggest obstacles was access to technology. Our foundation provided tablets and laptops to them that they could check out for a period of time. Cox Communications offered them reduced internet costs. If I had more money, I would spend more time on that. It’s a wonderful part of my job, looking for innovative things that make an impact in the long term. I’m thankful that the doctors have given me space to do that work.”
Although Wang loves her job, she says that she misses getting a chance to have a conversation with people she wouldn’t normally get to talk to. “To be a journalist, you have to have an innate sense of curiosity. You never lose that,” she added. “I always want to ask questions.”
She said that she’s proud of what she accomplished as a journalist.
“Many stories impacted me personally. Early in my career, I got the chance to do a story on a nightclub in Wichita that wouldn’t allow people of color inside. I watched the door in a van with tinted windows. I had a supportive boss who let me camp out. Someone came forward and confirmed those practices were going on. I got subpoenaed by the state, who wanted my sources so they could prosecute. It turned into a story that got a lot of attention and made people think. It was an important reminder of why I was a journalist – to make people think.”
In her free time, Wang is involved with a variety of organizations. She serves on the Public Library Board, the Omaha Symphony Guild Board, and the advisory board for the Omaha-Chinese Cultural Association. She is involved with Junior League, One World, and the Husker Greats Foundation.
“My husband and I love the arts, and we attend the symphony and ballet,” she said. “I keep threatening to find a ballet class to take. I danced when I was a young girl. I also read a lot – I’m in a book club in my neighborhood. I love to travel and eat. My dream place to travel is Italy.”
Because her family is scattered across the U.S. – Chicago, Portland and Seattle – that means frequent travel. “We are both very close to our families. All of our nieces and nephews are under five years old, so you want to be present; you want to make memories.”
Would Wang consider leaving Omaha to be closer to her family? “We have found a sense of community here,” she said. “It’s too grey to move back to Seattle, but you never know. None of my career has ever been planned.”
For more information about the Metro Omaha Medical Society, go to omahamedical.com.
Tomorrow night, March 15, you’ll find Carol Wang at the annual joint meeting of the Omaha Bar Association and the Metro Omaha Medical Society. This event brings together members of both organizations to better understand the challenges facing each profession.
This year’s speakers are Douglas County crime scene investigators. The reception is at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 p.m., at the Omaha Marriott Regency. Contact OBA Executor Director Dave Sommers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-280-3607.