Striving for a Better Life: The Story Of One of My Students

I am working with one young man, Fong, who is a Vietnamese American whose parents stowed away in a cargo ship to escape the brutal Communist regime in Vietnam in the late 1980’s. They were granted political asylum in the U.S. and are citizens. Fong is a UCLA graduate and is applying to medical school. He and I are heavy into all of his supplemental essays for various medical schools, which is giving me an opportunity to get to know him quite well. Tonight we finished his autobiography for UC San Diego medical school and I learned even more.

His father and mother’s education was interrupted due to war-torn Vietnam and they both have only an elementary school education. They also only speak a little English. However, they have always been very supportive of their two sons in whatever dreams they have had for themselves. The father works in the back a Vietnamese grocery store and his mother worked in a factory for a long time. Fong has always worked to bring in extra money for the family even by selling handmade leather goods at flea markets. This same boy graduated in the top 10% of his high school class and graduated from UCLA with top grades.

Fong epitomizes the American Dream.

He wants to work as a physician in underserved areas with immigrant populations because he says that he knows what it’s like to live in an area where medical services are a luxury. He wants to provide that extra help to those who have difficulty understanding the intricacies of medical diagnoses and treatments and to make sure they are adequately informed related to health care decisions. His own grandmother died on the operating table during a high risk medical procedure and his parents had not understood exactly how high risk it was. He believes that if he or his brother had been there to translate, then perhaps his grandmother’s death would not have come as such a terrible surprise.

I am proud to live in a country where a poor child through hard work can become a physician. That is exactly what America is all about: to provideĀ opportunities to dig out of poverty and make positive contributions to our society.

There is no doubt this young man will see his dream come to fruition. He has developed the focus, the discipline and the good character to bring about positive change.

To his hard work I say a hearty Hear! Hear! He epitomizes the very best of our country and we all should be proud to have young people like him among us. He is already well on his way to making this a better world.

May God bless him in his efforts. He is a very good young man.


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