All in the Family

Albert and Vicky Mok couldn’t think of a better place to make a donation than Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, a place where so many members of their family received their education

By Jennifer Parraga, BA’93

For Albert and Vicky Mok, Western University is synonymous with family.

Seven members of the family are Western alumni, with a few having multiple degrees.

Dr. Albert Mok, MSc’71, MD’75, is a graduate of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, earning his master’s in neurophysiology and   Doctor of Medicine degrees. Mrs. Mok, MLIS’71, is a graduate of the Master of Library Science program. Their daughters, Drs. Andrea and  Lesley Mok, completed their undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Physiology respectively, and their family medicine residencies at the School. Dr. Albert Mok’s brother, Lawrence, MD’72, his nephew, Dr. Ambrose Au, MD’95, and Dr. Lydia Lo, MD’91, Ambrose’s wife, all graduated with their Doctor of Medicine degrees from Schulich Medicine.

So, it’s not surprising that when they were considering giving back to the community, they chose Western University and, specifically, students at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry as the beneficiaries of their donation.

The family made a $25,000 donation to establish and endow the Mok Family Award in Medicine. It will be awarded annually to a full-time Doctor of Medicine student in any year based on academic achievement and demonstrated financial need. The award is currently valued at 1,000, and the Moks hope that it will bring some financial relief to students.

“Like most donors, we can afford to give back to the community,” Dr. Albert Mok said. “And we thought what better place to give back than to the medical school. I paid so little for my tuition and, because of the high cost of education today, I know there are students who need assistance. It’s the least I can do.”

Dr. Mok grew up in Macau and completed his undergraduate studies in Hong Kong – where he says he fell in love with the physiology of the brain and nervous system. He came to Western to pursue a master’s degree in neurophysiology working with and being mentored initially by Dr. Jim Stevenson, PhD, and ultimately Gordon Mogenson, PhD.

Raised by a physician father, inspired by a physician grandfather, and influenced by his brother, who was a medical student at the time, Dr. Mok always had his eye on medicine, and began his undergraduate medical studies upon completion of his master’s degree.

“My father took every opportunity to explain to me what medicine was like,” said Dr. Mok. “I have wonderful memories of spending many hours watching him working with his patients, and even sharpening his scalpels and the points of his hypodermic needles. Back in the 1950s you used to sharpen your own instruments,” he added with a chuckle.

While Dr. Mok was pursuing his medical studies, Mrs. Mok was pursuing her master’s of library science degree at Western. She had previously completed her undergraduate degree in Hong Kong, and spent time teaching English.

Upon graduation, Dr. Mok began his family practice in east London caring for multiple generations of families, doing deliveries, and making house calls. He also dedicated more than 500 hours to annually working in the emergency department, spent four years working as a medical officer in the military reserves and volunteered with a number of organizations.

He also relished the opportunity to mentor and supervise residents from the medical school as an adjunct professor.

“I really enjoyed working with students and residents,” Dr. Mok said. “Most of the individuals that you mentor come prepared with their clinical skills well in hand, so what I focused on was how to be a good, caring physician, how to respect patients, how to offer diagnostic and treatment options, how to listen and explain things in a way that was easily understood.”

Mrs. Mok began her career as research assistant at Western’s School of Library and Information Sciences and then took on the position as Technical Services Librarian at Fanshawe College, which she held for the next 39 years.

Together, they pursued their hobbies of fine arts and photography, antiquities, travelling and cultivating orchids.

Their lives and focus changed when their two daughters were born, and using his father as a role model, Dr. Mok cut back on some of his volunteer commitments to dedicate more time to his nuclear family.

He fondly recalls the days when his daughters would go along for the ride during hospital visits, house calls  and when he would be sitting at the kitchen table working on charts, while his daughters did their homework.

After 40 years, the Moks retired from their careers and are enjoying their daughters, grandchildren, their many volunteer commitments, hobbies and travelling.

Mrs. Mok jokes that whenever they are out in the community, they run into former patients. But for them, it’s just like seeing members of their family.

“Patients become a part of your family in some way. For me, it’s probably the best part of the practice of being a physician.” —Dr. Albert Mok, MSc’71, MD’75

“Patients become a part of your family in some way,” said Dr. Mok. “For me, it’s probably the best part of the practice of being a physician.”

By creating the Mok Family Award, the Moks hope they can help young medical students who are committed to the wellbeing of people and their families, and who have a true passion for caring and helping individuals. They also hope that it will serve as an example for other families to support future generations to study medicine and contribute to society.