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June 14, 2011 > Scholarships Aid Students' Quest Toward Careers in Health Care

Scholarships Aid Students' Quest Toward Careers in Health Care

A Future Filled with 'Fulfillment of Scientific Knowledge' and 'Confident Smiles'

Many young people set their sights on a career in health care, but it can be a long and expensive road to reach their destination.

To help students who are planning to enter the health care field, Washington
Hospital's volunteer organization, the Service League, grants annual Health Career Scholarships in the memory of some of the league's founding members.

This year, two health career scholarships have been awarded to graduating high school seniors who reside in Washington Township Health Care District as they embark on their studies in health-related fields. These scholarships are renewable for up to four years.

The recipients of the 2011 Health Career Scholarships are high-school seniors Demi Pham and Derek Ho.

Future Dentist Seeks to Serve Her Community

Demi, who is graduating from Mountain View's St. Francis High School this year, says she was surprised and very honored to be a recipient of the Service League's Health Career Scholarships.

"It feels great and this is a great reassurance for my path towards medicine," she enthuses. "I was absolutely thrilled to have been selected for the scholarship, and I can't thank the hospital enough! I was so shocked when I found out that I had received the scholarship-what a great honor it is to be selected."

Demi will attend the University of the Pacific (UOP) this coming fall as part of the school's five year accelerated dental program where she will study for two years as an undergraduate in preparation for her application to attend UOP's Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry for three years of study to receive her dental degree.

For her, a career in dentistry will fuse a longtime enthusiasm for science with her love of working with people.

"I've always had a passion for science," Demi explains. "Whether I was studying the process of DNA replication in biology or participating the Science Bowl, I have always approached science with an eager curiosity and desire to learn. After working as a lifeguard and swim instructor for three years, I found that I really enjoy working with not only kids, but also people of all ages.

"Each person was different, and it felt good to be able to make an impact on their lives, even if in a small way, such as teaching them how to kick in the water. The more I involved myself in activities surrounding the health care field, the more I knew I wanted to be involved in the field in the future. Dentistry combines my passion for biology, my affinity for health care and my desire to work with patients and serve my community."

Excited to be majoring in Pre-Dentistry through UOP's dental program, Demi says her drive to succeed stemmed from the people closest to her: her parents.

"My parents are my source of inspiration and motivation," she says. "They traveled from Vietnam to America with absolutely nothing and were able to build up their lives in a whole new foreign country and language. Their determination and perseverance despite tremendous difficulties inspires me to never give up on my goals and passions. My mom and dad have supported me with my decisions and always tell me to just do what I love.

"My goal is to go to dentistry school after I finish my years of undergrad work at UOP. I'm still keeping my options open, but I do hope to specialize in orthodontics after I get my Doctor of Dental Surgery degree."

From there, she hopes to serve the community she calls home.

"In 10 years, I see myself owning my own practice and being able to provide dental care to the many people of my community," Demi says. "I would find it very rewarding to be doing something I love, such as working with patients, and being able to provide a comfortable means of eating, as well as a confident smiles."

Seeking a "Rewarding and Vibrant" Career in Medicine

Derek Ho, also a graduating senior from Mountain View's St. Francis High School, says he is humbled that a nonprofit organization like Washington Hospital's Service League has awarded him a scholarship to further his studies toward a career in medicine.

"I am incredibly honored to receive such a prestigious scholarship from Washington Hospital," Derek says. "To me, I feel like the Service League is going out on a limb to aid me in funding my college education, since the Service League is a nonprofit group and is willing to provide me with financial assistance. Therefore, I am very thankful for the scholarship that I have received."

Derek intends to pay back the Service League's faith in him by entering a competitive pre-medical program at Pennsylvania State University, where he will be among 38,000 other undergraduate students.

"There, I will be studying in the accelerated six-year Premedical-Medical Program in cooperation with Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia," he says. "In this competitive medical program, I will study at Penn State for two years and two summers in preparation for four years at Jefferson Medical College. Through the program, I have guaranteed acceptance to Jefferson and will receive both a bachelor's degree and a Medical Doctorate degree in six years."

Derek says he has always enjoyed utilizing scientific knowledge and applying it to real life situations, but he also enjoys working directly with others.

"I strive to enter the health care field because I feel that it is the most rewarding and vibrant of professions due to its fulfillment of scientific knowledge, interpersonal interactions, compassion for others, and leadership in the community," he explains.

Though he is prepared for the rigors of an accelerated premedical program, he also looks forward to a lifetime of acquiring new knowledge as scientific discoveries continue to unfold during his career. Notably, Derek has been fortunate to have a role model in his uncle, a practicing anesthesiologist who specializes in pain management.

"He runs an extremely successful practice in Texas and really enjoys the work that he does," according to Derek. "He has inspired me to attempt to become a medical doctor and eventually perhaps start my own clinic, possibly with the help of a master's degree in Healthcare Administration."

In 10 years, Derek expects to have just finished his residency after medical school.

"I see myself working at a hospital for my first real job in the medical field (other than my internship) and attempting to balance that with a married life," he says. "I hope that by then, I'll be planning to start a family and settle down fully, since my career goal will have been achieved and I will hopefully be married at that time."

Scholarships for Aspiring Health Care Professionals

To learn more about volunteering and scholarship opportunities for adults and students, visit and click on "Giving & Volunteering."

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