I have known that I wanted to be a doctor since I was a little kid, but in high school I started to get this tickle in the back of my mind that was interested in military service. I thought that there could be nothing better to do with my life than care for the people who defend our freedom. In college, without really discussing it much with my folks, I joined ROTC. I told my family after the fact and they were pretty apprehensive about the idea. But, my little 86 year old grandma was ecstatic! She couldn't wait to get pictures of me in uniform and was so proud of me. My Grandma was my champion supporter!
I enlisted in the USAF at 17. Ten years later, a military commissioning program offered me a chance to help others in the Nurse Corps. Now, 15 years into my military career, the military has offered the chance to become a physician. I am honored to be challenged with this opportunity to unleash my potential and use my talents to optimize the health of my nation's heroes and their families. Being a "first" for so much means that extra familial support and mentorship were crucial. I have accomplished nothing alone, and I wish to pay it forward to my fullest.
I am the first in my family to graduate from high school, college and to attend medical school and graduate school. I am the first in my family but I will not be the last!
While I may be first in my family to accomplish the previous statements, it would not be possible had it not been for dedication of my many teachers. I would like to thank my wife and son who have been there through the good times and the many bad, you complete me!
I initially got interested in the Navy after going to a Naval Academy boot camp during high school, but it wasn't until applying to medical school and learning about USUHS that I started seriously considering the military. I truly believe I would not be happier at any other school. I am constantly inspired by my classmates and the doctors around me to improve myself mentally and physically in order to serve those who make far bigger sacrifices every day than I do.
This meant you worked harder than all your colleagues, struggled longer to find your voice. Education helped me recognize my gifts, find my voice, and see my potential, but the most important factor was my family. They bestowed upon me the "blessing," the belief that my gifts, great or small, would make a difference in the lives of others. Reflect upon your gifts, embrace them, and coupled with your education make a difference. Not all things in life are easy, but some things are meaningful and each of you is blessed with the ability to make a difference.
My father left high school to help support his family. Working as caretaker, he hired a woman to exercise the horses. They were soon married. My mother ran a boarding stable while Dad worked cleaning up oil spills. Lung cancer took him when I was 8. The farm required constant work; no vacation, pension, or extra staff. Academic success, and the timely encouragement of others, led me to USU. Amazing stories from the Naval Officers in my extended family made it easy to choose the Navy!
I come from a blue-collar family, and we were not financially prepared for the costs of obtaining an education. Once I completed my undergraduate degree, I enlisted in the Army to help earn money and prepare me for graduate school and beyond. I felt pulled toward officership and leadership and was selected for "Green to Gold," the Army's commissioning program for enlisted Soldiers who want to complete a baccalaureate degree. I have just completed my third year of the PhD program in clinical psychology and will also be the first in my family to complete a doctoral degree.
I grew up in a low socioeconomic household and lived through a lot of the common symptoms of that: eviction, dysfunctional family, and brief gang affiliation. The outlook I had during childhood was bleak. I didn’t understand the concept of college until high school when I started taking AP classes where I was put into a high-achieving environment that helped guide me here today: an officer and future doctor. I am just super happy to be here.
My father, uncle, and father-in-law served in WW II; my grandfather and grandfather-in-law were in WW I, and we have an ancestor who was a private in the Army of Northern Virginia! I joined the USAF to support my medical education in 1980 and was the first to become an "Officer" in our family. My fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases and staff appointment at USUHS led me to complete a 28 year military career. In addition, my daughter is now an Air Force Medical Officer completing her residency in pediatrics at our Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
I'm the first in my family to serve in the United States military. I am proud and privileged to wear the cloth of my nation and serve the men and women who put themselves in harm's way every day, protecting the freedom and ideals on which our country was founded. I can think of no higher calling or more deserving population; I study hard and do my best in order to honor their sacrifices and support their mission.
Family gatherings always revolved around stories of "The War." They were so proud when I graduated from college and became an Army Nurse. They all lived to see me complete a master's degree but none lived to see me complete my PhD. With all the amazing things that have happened to me in my life, I believe what would have made them the most proud is me being a faculty member in the GSN here at USUHS.
Although I did not view my childhood as necessarily disadvantaged, I certainly was not destined to become a physician. I am the youngest of six children, born to a mother who birthed five children between the ages of 16 and 26. Moreover, neither of my parents graduated high school, so it was indeed a struggle to carve out a path for myself. It was only with the help of my loving parents, siblings, and countless mentors, as well as pure chance, that I am at USU today.
I am fortunate to have many firsts in my family and community: first generation American, first to get out of the "'hood", attend boarding school and college (and Harvard for that), attend medical school and join the military. Throughout my life people were quick to stereotype, but I considered myself a prototype. I set the bar that others would aim for. Being first is an honor but it also carries its responsibilities. I was the first to speak up, to take risks, the one to be headstrong, courageous and resilient, all without jeopardizing the path for those after me.
Despite my family's educational background, hard work has always been important to us. It was hard work that helped my family to send me to an Ivy League school and helped me to progress into graduate school at USUHS. I am researching how to improve the healthcare, well-being, and function of cancer survivors. Being the first in my family to achieve these academic milestones is very significant to me as I believe it represents the legacy that my mom left behind when she passed away from brain cancer in 2010. Even while she was sick and I would visit her in the hospital, she would quickly remind me to get back to school and get my degree! I am hopeful that she would be proud to see what I have accomplished today despite the trials that my family experienced during my undergraduate career.
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