Spotlight
Undergraduate Pursues Opportunities that Combine Medical and Educational Ideals
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Jason Cao
Education Minor
TOT Board Member

Irvine, Calif., February 1, 2012

Every so often, I find myself cruising out of the sanctuary that is Irvine and back through the petroleum-scented streets of Rosemead, my hometown. All the barred dwellings and cracked walls raise within me a familiar and celebratory sensation because, after all, this city has served as a backdrop to many of my values and ideals. For example, my ideas on education have emerged as a result of my Rosemeadian lifestyle. As I progressed through my childhood experiences in a relatively impoverished city, I grew to understand the real value of education. Education truly sets the tone for a child’s life whether it is in terms of motivation, personal values, or knowledge in general. Even at the sixth grade level, many of my peers who lacked attention and care from their teachers and parents began to spiral down paths of delinquency. In contrast, by the end of my high school years, I had chosen my course and set my intentions toward higher education. My vision was clear: I wanted to be a teacher and someone who could narrow the gap between education and poverty through genuine passion.

I came into UCI as a bio major living in an education themed dormitory, and I tagged on a minor in educational studies during my second year (and I remain with such standings). My third year of college is in full pursuit now, however not in the direction of being a teacher. Somewhere in between my two years at UCI, I developed an interest in nursing/pharmacy. This is not at all to say that I do not value education. In fact, my attraction to education still persists; I continually volunteer in the tutoring position at a local school, am on board for Teachers of Tomorrow (TOT) at UCI, and find joy in minor/friendly tutoring roles.

For the moment, I am focusing my major efforts on medical endeavors and have been pursuing a range of volunteering opportunities that incorporate medical and educational ideals. At Fountain Valley Regional Hospital I accompany a nursing unit in an oncology (cancer) setting and get to interact with and understand patients on a more personal level. I have joined a non-profit organization called M.E.M.O. (Medical, Education Missions & Outreach) with the hopes of reaching out to third world countries. Recently, I participated in M.E.M.O.’s Health Fair Clinic, which brought together doctors from all specializations to help members from local communities in the Westminster region get basic to specific forms of clinical checkups. This summer I plan on furthering my experiences with M.E.M.O. by doing clinical, educational, and community services in all regions of Vietnam (I must add that I am extremely passionate and excited for this trip to Vietnam).

If you asked me to describe my most prominent characteristic, I would probably say it is my willingness to reach out to others. However, putting aside the more serious side of my life, I really am just a guy who is willing to be immersed in different contexts. You can find me at the gym, on the courts, enjoying a book, drinking some milk tea, eating the newest item on a menu, engaging with my family, or even just sitting outside tuned into my music. I truly try to enjoy and find light in all circumstances.