I am a pre-med junior majoring in neuroscience and Spanish, and I aspire to be a neurosurgeon who focuses on serving minority communities. To know more about me, we should start with the migration of my parents to the US. My mother, South Korean, met my father, Taiwanese, while they were both students in Japan. They promised that they would raise their family in the States to give them a chance to achieve their dreams in a way that can’t be done elsewhere.
Fast-forward to my childhood in a suburb near LA. My parents made good by their promise and encouraged us to pursue any interest we had. The parents of my peers pressured them to become doctors and lawyers, but whenever I jokingly told my mom that I wanted to deliver pizzas or clean bathrooms for the rest of my life, she said that she 100% supported me if it made me into a self-sufficient, happy adult. Just by vowing to help their three daughters choose their passions, my parents have managed to give their unconditional support in a land so different from everything they knew. As a result, I’m well on my way to helping others.
However, there were a few rough spots that we hit along the way. My dad was a real-estate agent, but when the housing market crashed in 2008, so did we. He began to work with his father in the nursery business. I never hear him complain as he got up at 5AM to labor outside, even as the heat peaked at 110°F. But it still wasn’t enough for my grandfather. No doubt, my grandfather is a great grandfather – he used to pay my tuition not covered by Vanderbilt – but he has always been an unloving father to my dad. After my dad had enough of the degradation and belittling from our relatives, he wrote a letter and read it to my grandfather alongside my mom. He said he loved his father, but that he was going to leave if he kept getting treated this way. My grandfather cussed at him all the way to the door.
Now my dad works as an Uber driver and my mom picked up her first job as a waitress at a sushi restaurant. I worry about them, but they assure me that they are actually relieved to be separated from my dad’s side of the family. Nonetheless, I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of it. I’m still torn about how I feel with my dad spending his day driving strangers around, and with the entirety of my mom’s family in Korea, us five are alone in the US. Soon, parents will have to pay tuition for three universities and, even sooner, the costs of my applying to medical school.
I have never asked my parents for money other than for tuition and, now more than ever, it’s a principle I refuse to break. I used to work night shifts to Rite Aid to cover odds and ends, but I had to leave to keep up with my classes. However, I know what my passions are, that I love working in the medical field, and cannot wait to pour my love and support back into the community. For now, though, I need a little help getting there.
Thank you Reader for hearing my story.
Monthly prescription medication: $30
Cost of living to stay in Nashville and intern as a lab assistant at Vanderbilt/apply for medical school: $5000
Tuition for Spring 2018: $3,500
Cost for textbooks in Spring 2018: $200
Total Cost Needed: $8730
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