Since 1985 YWCA Clark County has been proud to recognize young women for their volunteerism, commitment to community, and leadership with our Young Women of Achievement Awards. Each recipient, from our first to our two most recent, inspired us by their commitment to better the world around them, and we relish any opportunity we get to spotlight their good works.
This is why we were so pleased to hear from Hannah Chong earlier this year. Hannah was awarded the First Independent Scholarship from YWCA in 2012, which helped send her to Seattle Pacific University for her undergraduate studies. She reached out to thank us for the scholarship, and to let us know that her educational journey had lead her to be recently accepted to medical school at Rocky Vista University in Colorado. We were so thrilled with her success that we decided to interview Hannah about her journey from former scholarship recipient to a future in practicing medicine.
How did you first hear about YWCA’s scholarship and what encouraged
you to apply?
HC: I first heard about YWCA’s scholarship through my librarian and advisor of the National Honor Society (NHS) at our school. I was encouraged to apply when I talked to one of the older students I looked up to at NHS who had applied for the scholarship in her previous years.
What drew you to Seattle Pacific University?
HC: The biggest thing that drew me to Seattle Pacific was the atmosphere and the faculty. While I was touring around colleges, I had a hard time seeing myself at large universities because I personally felt less comfortable being “lost in a sea of faces”. I wanted a college where I could get to know my professors, and be a part of a smaller community because I knew that was the kind of environment I personally would thrive in. When I toured Seattle Pacific I saw just that.
Seattle Pacific also allowed me to pursue my love for music through a keyboard/piano scholarship without having to be a music major. I had a packed class schedule because I was taking pre-med classes, but music was an essential part of my mental health and school-life balance.
What drew you to study medicine? Has it always been a passion, or was it something you became drawn to in college?
HC: Actually, when I applied to college, I applied with the intention of pursuing business degree.
The year before I went to college, I got a birthday present, the “StrengthsFinder 2.0”, a professional strengths assessment that many companies use to identify employee strengths and put together effective teams. My top result, “Individualization” was something that deeply resonated with me and found to be true about myself. The strength “individualization” means that I am “intrigued by the unique qualities of each person”, and that I can “instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships”.
After reading this, I thought to myself, was business really a career that capitalizes on this strength that I know to be very true about myself? Even though there is no doubt I could’ve continued to pursue business and find a place for my strengths, I started looking into different careers that really emphasized one-on-one relationships.
When I became curious about medicine I shadowed a doctor to try to get a clearer picture about the different careers in medicine. I became intrigued by the unique responsibilities of a doctor to act as a mentor, counselor, partner, and guide to their patients, and decided I would pursue medicine in college and continue to test the waters.
What drew you to Rocky Vista University?
HC: I was drawn to Rocky Vista because of the school’s atmosphere, their status as a DO school, and their comprehensive program. When I interviewed at Rocky Vista, I felt like I was a valued candidate, and that the school was genuinely interested in the character and personalities of their students, not just their grades and statistics. It was the same atmosphere that I thrived under at Seattle Pacific, and I was excited to find a program I liked.
A DO program differs from the traditional MD program because we also learn an additional skill set of OMM (osteopathic manipulative medicine), a sort-of cross between chiropractic techniques and physical therapy. It’s an accessible, effective way to treat patients without the use of medicine or invasive procedures.
What are you most looking forward to about med school, and being a doctor?
HC: For me, getting accepted into medical school has been a long and difficult journey. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the rationality behind all the hoops you’re jumping through, especially over many years. From here on out, I know my studying, learning, and all the activities will be directly applied to my future as a physician, and to me that is so exciting! I know the journey is difficult, but I feel closer than ever and I’m looking forward to it.
Any final thoughts on your journey from scholarship recipient to med school student, or messages for students currently looking into colleges?
HC: Of course I would like to give a huge thank you to YWCA for the scholarship they gave me when I entered college! Every contribution helps, and the scholarship I received was also so empowering because it was a symbol of the support I had from a committee that believed in me.
If I could say anything to young people thinking about college, I would say: Take your time to find out what you’re truly passionate about, and know that it doesn’t necessarily have to follow a “perfect timeline.” Once you find what you’re passionate about, it will be so worth the time you took, and that passion will carry you through whatever you have to do to pursue what you want to do.
Always remember the people that inspired you and supported you throughout your journey and remember to THANK THEM! The attitude of remembering where you came from will help you stay true to who you are, and keep you in the right perspective as you move forward, work hard, and remember all the people that are cheering you on.
Congratulations again, Hannah! We have no doubt you’ll enjoy continued success at Rocky Vista University!
For those interested in learning more about our Young Women of Achievement Scholarships visit https://ywcaclarkcounty.org/what-we-do/special-initiatives/young-women-of-achievement/