Hi. Here is my latest revision :).
"No! Not another disgusting lizard, Grandma!"
I heartily protested as my grandma pinned me down and pried my mouth open to force a live lizard sandwiched between two slices of banana down my throat. I grasped tightly onto my grandma's scarlet sweater, both eyes bathed in tears, howling and kicking to dodge the four-legged creature in her hand. The more I resisted, the worse my coughing and wheezing became. My childhood asthma overpowered me and my breathing became shallow. At last, I surrendered. With my eyes closed and breath held, I quickly swallowed the creature the second it tickled the inside of my mouth. It was already my third lizard for the day. The familiar pleasant taste and aroma of banana failed to disguise the unpleasant gecko sandwiched between.
In the rural village of central Vietnam where I grew up, basic health care was a scarcity and consuming a house lizard was the most readily accessible remedy for my severe asthma. My grandparents were too poor and medicine too expensive for us to seek mainstream treatment for my illness. At the onset of my symptoms, I could not turn to my mother for solace. Only two when my family escaped Vietnam by boat, my parents reluctantly left me behind because I was too sick to endure the perilous journey. Even with the love and care of relatives and friends, I lamented the loss of my family and a place to call home.
I was reunited with my family in California when I was nine. For the first time in my life, I had a family doctor who attended to my medical needs. The absence of adequate medical attention in my early childhood promoted and fostered my sympathy for the sick and the poor. The comprehensive care that I received in the United States inspired me to devote my academic years to helping those who are less fortunate. Through my volunteer work, I am surprised and saddened to learn that health care inequity is not isolated to Vietnam, but also exists in the heart of America. In today's society, there are orphans, homeless people, and immigrants who cannot access basic and adequate health services. These patients often sidestep hospitalization and expensive medication due to financial difficulties. For this reason, I aspire to become a physician who can provide holistic medical care to patients from all social and economic backgrounds.
While in college, my inspiration propelled me to become an assistant to physicians and nurses in the Emergency Department at San Francisco General Hospital. Here, I help provide clinical care to homeless and uninsured patients whose medical needs are coupled with psychosocial problems. While shadowing the physicians, I noticed that genuine gestures of kindness plus a few words of comfort were always integrated into their interactions with patients. The doctors in the emergency department have helped me to appreciate that the roll of a physician includes more than diagnosing diseases and prescribing treatments; rather, it embraces the patient's whole well-being, both body and mind. Their thoughtful actions offer meaning to Sir William Osler's words: "The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease." I too want to become a great physician, and I have strived to implement Osler's teaching into my volunteer work at SFGH. This hands-on interaction with patients imparts greater meaning to my life and education while solidifying my resolve to become a physician.
With this resolve in mind, I am determined to leave no stone unturned in the path to fulfilling my dream. At UC Berkeley, I have explored different opportunities and taken on many challenges to best prepare myself for medical school, including pursuing a double major in Molecular Immunology and Integrative Biology. As a student of science, I am most interested in applying knowledge from the classroom to hands-on research to answer scientific questions. I felt at home when deeply engaged in cancer research in the Karpen Lab at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. With a pipette in hand, I conducted experiments to study how the cell recognizes and repairs DNA damage induced by radiation. At the 2008 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship conference, I presented my research on the functions of various tumor suppressor proteins in the DNA repair pathway to professors, postdoctoral scholars, and undergraduate students. This research is promising because knowledge of how cells repair DNA damage can contribute to a better understanding of, and therefore, potential treatment for diseases associated with damage to our genome, including cancer. I look forward to participating in the medical community's efforts, both as a future medical student and physician, to address today's and tomorrow's health problems.
In choosing to become a physician, I pursue a career uniting my interests in science and medicine with my passion to help others. As an aspiring medical student, I hope to provide health education and medical care to patients and cultivate compassion that establishes friendship at the patient's bedside. Medical school is the next important stone for me to assiduously and eagerly turn in accomplishing my lifelong aspiration of becoming a physician.