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2011 Scholars


Ton La, Jr.

Les and Donna Haulbrook UH Tier One Scholarship Endowment

Classification: Senior
Graduation Year: 2015
College: College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Major: Biology, Pre-Law & Pre-Medicine
Minors: Health, Medicine & Society, Psychology
High School: Michael E. DeBakey High School
Hometown: Houston, TX   

About Me

Open-minded, cordial, inspired, competitive, and hard-working are all adjectives that describe me. Outside of school, I enjoy playing the piano and weight lifting.

Campus And Community Involvement

I am a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, the American Medical Student Association, the Golden Key International Honour Society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I was the UH-AMSA webmaster for the 2013-2014 school year ( Currently, I am part of the Bonner Affiliates Program.

During the 2012-2013 school year, I was the H-LSAMP/SEP editor where I worked with administration to produce articles about upcoming/past news & events. I also launched the Student Successes page where you can find featured students in athletics, engineering, pre-health, undergraduate research, and UH competitions & contests. I also interviewed UH alumni that have gone through SEP. As well, I was a Chemistry 2 workshop assistant facilitator for the Spring 2013 semester.

During high school, I volunteered over 1,300 hours at the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science, and Texas Children’s and St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospitals. Likewise, I served as President of the TCH and SLEH Junior Volunteer Councils my senior year, and now this is my fourth year as an advisor to both councils. As part of the TCH JVC we host holiday parties and hospital-wide puppet shows for the patients, and as part of the SLEH JVC we visit patients on holidays and distribute hand-made gifts and cards. Also, annually on Thanksgiving and Easter at TCH & SLEH I sport the Turkey/Easter Bunny costume and go floor-by-floor to visit patients. Before I was President of both councils, I was the Special Events and Publicity Chairman of the TCH JVC and Treasurer of the SLEH JVC.

Presently, I am a National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) Student Council Representative where I occasionally write articles for the NSHSS monthly newsletter and represent the University of Houston at member events where I talk to current/prospective members and their parents about the college admissions process, scholarship opportunities, my experiences in high school, and the University of Houston.

Awards And Honors

  • 10th Annual UH Undergraduate Research Day Audience’s Favorite Poster Award: 2nd Place (10/09/2014)
  • UH Women's Resource Center Beyoncé & Jay-Z On The Run Tour Essay Contest: 2nd Place (07/02/2014)
  • Village News / Southwest News: UH Student Delegate to Caen D-Day Event (06/17/2014)
  • UH Media Release: Tier One Scholar Invited to Represent U.S. at D-Day Anniversary Events (05/20/2014)
  • President’s Volunteer Service Award – Gold Level (2013)
  • Texas Association of Healthcare Volunteers Scholarship (2013)
  • Lester and Sue Smith Scholarship (2013)
  • Office of Naval Research Scholar Award (2013)
  • Princeton Review Scholar Award (2012)
  • College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Alumni Association Scholarships (2012 & 2013)
  • Frontier Fiesta Community Involvement Scholarships (2012 & 2013)
  • Houston Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Scholarship (2011-2013)

High School:

  • President's Volunteer Service Award
  • Nomination for the 2011 Mayor's Volunteer Houston Award
  • 1st Place Special Award (Biochemistry/Microbiology) at the 51st Science Engineering Fair of Houston
  • 1st Place (2010) & 2nd Place (2011) for Piano Solo at the UIL Texas State Solo-Ensemble Contest
  • 1st Place Piano Solo at the Region 23 Orchestra UIL Solo and Ensemble Contest (2010 & 2011)
  • 3rd Place Piano Solo at the 2008 Texas French Symposium
  • 3rd Degree Black Belt, Le Loi USA Taekwondo – Hapkido Academy
  • 6th Annual International Martial Arts Festival: 1st Place Sparring & 1st Place Forms
  • AP Scholar with Distinction & Honor
  • Best French Level 3 and Level 2 Student
  • Best AP Biology Student
  • Best Economics & U.S. Government Student

Study Abroad

I was one of ten U.S. college students, selected out of 300 applicants, to participate in the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy (D-Day) from May 29 - June 8, 2014 in Caen, France. I was a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs I, and our resolution to encourage a constructive and sustainable dialogue between Ukrainian, Russian and EU leaders was passed by a margin of 37 votes. I also attended the Freedom & Solidarity Forum and Franco-American Ceremony at Colleville-sur-Mer. My blog can be found here.


I am studying behavioral biology and neuroscience as they relate to politics with Dr. Ryan Kennedy, PhD. Recently, I presented a poster at the 10th Annual Undergraduate Research Day titled "The Politics of Fear: Biology, Environment, and Public Opinion" and below is the poster abstract:

Recent research has suggested that a person's political ideology is related to their biology. Several studies for example have shown that conservatives have a stronger fear response to threatening stimuli than liberals. Still unexplored is the interaction between political ideology and threat response, i.e., when presented with threatening stimuli, do conservatives become more conservative and do liberals become less liberal? We field a survey experiment in which subjects are randomly assigned to see threatening images. Prior to the treatment we measure political ideology and subsequently attitudes on immigration policy. Results are still pending, but we believe that this study could further our understanding of how ideology is related to threat response.