Personal Statement: Lisa Tran (2014)

Lisa Tran, class of 2014, has been known for her well-roundedness and incredibly active involvement at school. Being a top 10 Most Worthy Argonaut, she was able to balance two part-time jobs, tons of club activities (including ASB), and academics while maintaining a 4.2 GPA and an SAT score of 1730. She was accepted to San Diego State University, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Long Beach, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Davis and will be attending UC Davis in the fall. Here, she reveals her dreams and how she realized them in her response to the first UC prompt:

Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

“Bac bi ngua mat (my eyes are itchy),” stuttered the elderly Vietnamese man with bloodshot eyes and unexplained tears. I knew that it was an understatement. I took his shaking hand as we entered the clinic and walked him toward the doctor’s office. The Senior Central County Expo began as a community service project that I only volunteered for in order to complete my hours for the National Honor Society. It was a free medical clinic for those who are unable to afford healthcare, and I served as a translator. When I arrived at the volunteer check-in table, the event coordinator smiled at me and said, “We need you to translate.” I smiled and nodded back as a gesture of understanding and acceptance of my task. I passed about fifty booths such as bone density, skin treatment, arthritis, optometry booths, and more. A line of approximately two hundred people stretched across the parking lot that led into a building where they would be able to speak to a doctor. I stood in the hallway between the office and the entrance, waiting for someone to need me. Individuals had their blood pressure taken before I escorted them to the doctor’s office where they would describe their pain and health issues to me, and I would relay the information to the doctor who would give them the appropriate medication. The watery, bloodshot eyes of a frail, Vietnamese man in the front of the line caught my attention. He raised his hand and quivered as he asked in Vietnamese, “Can you please escort me? Please stay with me. I need you.” After he had his heart rate measured, I accompanied him to the doctor’s office where I sat down with them, and translated their conversation. I asked him how he was feeling and he responded, “My eyes have been irritated for the past three months and my current medication is ineffective.” As I described his pains, the doctor wrote a prescription that gave him the opportunity to find the appropriate medicine for his needs. As we walked down the hallway toward the exit, this man brokenly smiled at me and said, “Thank you so much. You are the reason my burdens of three months are to be alleviated. Stay in school; do great things.” I returned his smile with tears welling up in my eyes. I hadn’t expected to see so many Vietnamese patients who neither spoke nor understood English. I didn’t expect to be the only Vietnamese translator, rushing to help as many people as I could. And I didn’t expect them to touch my heart the way they did. Until this day, I never realized that simple acts of kindness could have such a profound effect on others. I was the direct link to these people’s states of well being. Just by translating, I brought the patients one step closer to health. I arrived assuming that these were just some patients with minor problems, but left knowing that they were individuals, who needed help from their sufferings. That day, their help began with me. Their step towards a better life begins with my step towards a better future, pursuing a career as a doctor who restores a patient to not only health, but also to happiness.