Medical Students Category: George Tong Yang & Carter Yang:
Undergraduate Students Category: Thad Yang & Ma Yang
To my family of refugees from the Secret War, America was a distant and unfamiliar place. My Hmong-speaking parents struggled to be understood in their new land, giving up everything to pursue the American Dream for their children. With eleven children in the house, food was not always a guarantee and necessities were sometimes scarce.
By sophomore year, I was the oldest child. My father was the sole provider, but as his business struggled, so did we. We sometimes went without meals and necessities, things I discovered that my older siblings had provided. Too busy with classes and extracurricular activities, I sold snacks at school to be able to provide dinners. I endured the whispers from other students about how poor I must be, but remained strong because I was doing this for my family.
In 2015, my grandmother fractured her spine. I would wake up constantly to massage her aching muscles and help her to the restroom, sacrificing my sleep so she could sleep better each night. This and school work left me exhausted, but it taught me a valuable lesson: I have to give back wholeheartedly to those that have raised me to become the person that I am. I carry this same love and mindset when I serve the community.
My struggles have fostered a desire to do well in school, lead in my community, and pursue a medical career. These passions were stoked by my experience with the Health Academy at school, which trains students as Community Health Workers to bridge the gap between the community and healthcare. I have worked in medically underserved communities with low-income families who face a variety of social and medical issues. I perform health screenings, educate about nutrition and diseases, helped with healthcare navigation and case management, and counsel people through motivational interviewing.
Once, during a health presentation, I broke down emotionally as I recounted how my grandfather suffered a stroke. Afterwards, a woman whispered an empowering message in my ear: “This is why what you do truly matters.” I realized that although I cannot turn back time to help my grandfather, I can make a difference by sharing my narrative and becoming a physician. Through the academy, I secured a paid internship with Kaiser Permanente and worked in the Labor and Delivery department. I spectated surgeries and deliveries, took care of patients, performed screenings, practiced blood draws, and more. From hands on experience of working in a hospital, I can say I deeply love this field of work.
Obstacles and sleepless nights have taught me perseverance and resilience. When things got tough, I dug in and was able to balance life challenges, serve my community, and stay on top of rigorous advanced courses. My experiences have fueled my determination to pursue my education so that I may deepen my academics becoming well positioned to apply to medical school. I am determined to one day become not only a physician, but a leader making holistic and constructive changes in communities.
Doua Lilly Vue