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Scholarship Application

My story is similar to the millions of immigrants that have come before me to this grateful nation to pursue the American dream. There is no denying this dream involves acquiring wealth band success but most importantly, we all want a secure future for our children. However due to language and cultural barriers, many first generation immigrants could not find jobs that match their already acquired academic qualifications and skills. The blue collar jobs which asked for minimal prerequisites before employment were the only sectors that had vacancies. I watched my parents sacrifice their health for the sake of achieving the American dream.

Like other immigrants, the blue collar jobs were physically demanding back-breaking jobs that took a toll on their health. The cost of the health-care system in America forced many immigrants to shy away from the services being offered by the system. Furthermore, they did not have information on any immigrant-friendly healthcare organization. The language barrier also proved to be a problem since the immigrants could not read the health-related fliers that were being distributed. The norm was to rely on a translator and this often required one to wait on the phone for several minutes before finding a translator.

The elderly were the ones who were most affected as they lacked the financial aid or physical strength that would enable them to make it to the hospital. The social workers helped wherever they could but the large elderly population whose information wasn’t included in any database meant that most of the social worker’s efforts were fruitless. Having witnessed some of these experiences while I was growing up, I’ve always known I had a duty to help not only the members of my community but also immigrants from other nations.

Together with members of the 7th Adventist Church, Pico Union Neighborhood Council and the Korean Daily, we organized a health fair on June 5th at the Leo Politi Elementary School. The hospital organizations that showed up agreed to offer their services free of charge and this was quite encouraging. Volunteers were present to help translate for those who could not speak English. It was the first time that such a health program had been offered to all the residents of the community. During this health fair, I teamed up with Dr. Lionel Lee and worked as his translator.

He wasn’t fluent enough in his Korean. Working with Dr Lee was an eye opening experience that changed the way I viewed the world and my role as a healthcare provider. My Korean wasn’t as fluent as I thought which was quite embarrassing considering the fact that Dr Lee could easily communicate with the Spanish speaking residents without a translator. Before this Health Fair, I had always thought that the time spent in Northeastern was all I needed to become an effective healthcare provider; turns out my ambitions were short-sighted.

Dr Lee showed me that a healthcare provider should not use the language and cultural barriers that existed as an excuse for not being able to offer his services. The Health Fair lasted for a single day but we were able to attend to 3500 people. The high turnout is a sign that healthcare services amongst the immigrant population are still lacking and hopefully with your help, we can reverse this trend. As I said earlier, working with the likes of Dr Lee plus other volunteers was such a humbling experience that I know we can continue replicating with the financial aid of your scholarship.

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