The assistant dean for student affairs at UNC School of Medicine makes it her mission to spark joy for the students whose shoes she once filled
By Megan Tillotson | Photo by John Michael Simpson
Each day brings a new opportunity to make an impact on someone’s life for Dr. Alice Chuang. As the assistant dean for student affairs at UNC School of Medicine, Alice heads the advising system – matching students with advisors to guide them through their academics and prepare them for their next steps after medical school. “It’s about student support, making sure our students can succeed and setting them up to succeed,” she says.
For her own education, Alice obtained her undergraduate degree in applied mathematics at Harvard University in 1993. Then she completed both medical school and her OB-GYN residency training back in her hometown of Memphis at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine in 2001. After moving to Chapel Hill in 2003, she started as a rank-and-file faculty member at UNC School of Medicine. “Over time, I just got more and more interested in medical student education,” Alice says. She went back to school to get her master’s of education in 2017.
She met her husband, Tom Ivester, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and chief medical officer at UNC Hospitals, when they both were completing their training. They live in Meadowmont with their two children, ages 13 and 15, and three dogs.
Along with the hands-on work of performing more than 2,000 deliveries throughout her career, Alice also trains the next generation of doctors, teaching OB-GYN courses to medical students. “[The students] all really remind me why I came into medicine because they’re curious and they’re excited,” Alice says. “They sort of approach everything with a fresh perspective.” She headed UNC’s main OB-GYN clerkship course from 2007 to 2018, which gives students the experience of what it’s like to be an obstetrician and deliver babies. “Students keep you on your toes because they ask those tough questions,” Alice says. “I think Carolina attracts a certain type of person because of our mission across every department and certainly in the School of Medicine, because it is very service oriented.”
When things get hectic, Alice leans on a piece of advice from Tom – figure out what makes you happy, and go after that. “I try to work really hard for myself and for the people around me to make sure to remember that everything you say, every word, every look, can create joy in someone’s life or take it away from them.”