Sydney Brummel — Staff Writer
On March 3, 2020, Professor Jason Ho traveled from Saskatchewan, Canada to Dordt University to be interviewed for a position in the physics department. At the time, the COVID-19 pandemic was still fairly new to the world and, for many, a distant rumor. However, less than two weeks after his interview, the pandemic reached North America, and Ho’s application and hiring process became a great deal more interesting.
On March 25, Ho accepted the job offer to serve as a physics professor at Dordt. His move to Iowa, though, would prove to be a challenge.
“I was in the middle of writing my dissertation, which was a big process,” Ho said. “And we [Ho and his wife] just weren’t sure what the borders were going to be like.”
Due to such uncertain border policies during the pandemic, the couple decided to move down to Iowa at separate times. Ho would move down by himself in August, and his wife would teach one last semester in Saskatoon (Saskatchewan, Canada) and join her husband in January.
Before he moved, Ho defended his PhD on July 24. The next day, he packed a U-Haul truck and travelled to Iowa on July 27. He started teaching classes in August. Although the circumstances were extremely busy and not ideal for the couple, Ho is grateful to see how everything worked out.
“Looking back, [that was] certainly something that I can point out and say that was God’s providence,” Ho said. “…Accepting a job like this in the middle of the pandemic…It’s just a lot of uncertainty, but every step of the way it felt right.”
A “theoretical physicist by trade,” Ho completed his years of study in western Canada. He grew up in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he spent the first twenty-two years of his life.
“I went to school there, went to university there,” Ho said. “I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Fraser Valley.”
Ho and his wife later moved to Saskatchewan in 2013, where he started his graduate studies at the University of Saskatchewan. During the couple’s seven years there, Ho obtained his master’s and PhD in physics. In total, he has been involved in the physics field for around twelve years.
“I really like being able to dig into nature and the natural world and see the patterns and how everything connects,” Ho said. “It’s really cool.”
Ho first heard about Dordt toward the end of completing his PhD in December of 2019.
“My sister-in-law kind of found the opportunity,” Ho said. “She was looking for jobs, and I was looking for jobs. We were passing each other jobs.”
Although he had never heard of Dordt previously, Ho began to ask around about the Christian university and found connections. In fact, one of his wife’s previous professors at Trinity Western University of British Columbia once taught in Dordt’s physics department himself.
“[I was] sort of building a picture and figured I’d throw in an application,” Ho said. He applied in January, eager for a teaching position. Despite the difficult circumstances during his application process, Ho found himself drawn to the community of Dordt. Moreover, he saw the school as an opportunity for him to develop and improve as a teacher.
From his own learning experience, Ho understood the significant difference a teacher can make in what fields students find themselves drawn to.
“I guess part of teaching for me is to try to take something that, on the face of it, people might find intimidating and try to break it down to become a lot more accessible.” Ho said.
This semester, Ho is teaching PHYS-231 and PHYS-324. Overall, the professor typically instructs students in the fields of engineering, chemistry, physics, STEM education, and HHP.
After living in Sioux Center for nearly six months, Ho has developed positive impressions of Northwest Iowa and its people.
“I’ve enjoyed the town. I’ve enjoyed the university, and my colleagues are great,” Ho said. “People here are really, really warm and friendly.”