Dear friend and fellow global citizen,
My name is Hyuk In (David) Yang, and I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit this campaign. To get directly to the point, my fiancé and I are trying to raise the money needed to live and graduate from a med-school in Eastern Europe.
As the title of the campaign suggests, I am currently almost 30 (born 1989), almost married (late July 2018), and almost in med-school (accepted to a couple of universities in Eastern Europe, but unable to financially support both my wife and I). I believe a short introduction of myself, how I ended up applying for medical school at this age, what I am all about, and how you can help me achieve my goals is needed. I will try to keep this as brief as possible.
I like introducing myself as a ‘missionary kid,’ because this is the word that I most identify with. It is a term that is used to refer to children whose parents work in a faith-based charity, and grew up in a foreign country. I was born in South Korea, but I grew up in a remote area of Sri Lanka during the years of civil war. Due to instability in the country and with my education, I was sent to a British boarding school in India, where I received my formal education (standard 4-12), and spent the majority of my childhood.
Growing up in a country that was in the middle of a long civil war, ravaged by ethnic and religious conflict, and the social tensions that result from this exposed me to the devastations of poverty, disease, and lack of health care from a young age. I was fortunate enough to attend a boarding school in India that offered great education and a sense of safety, but in hindsight, the reality of living in a country where majority of the people’s lacked access to basic necessities was ever present. For example, I would volunteer to go help orphanages that housed children that had been abandoned for the crime of being born female, and I would join my parents who would visit slums where people did not have basic necessities such as food and clothes. It was common for people to visit hospitals only as a last resort, resulting in delayed diagnosis and treatment resulting in unnecessary and premature death or disability. This is where I witnessed first-hand the importance of health and basic health-care.
Upon the request of my parents, I returned to Korea to further my education after graduation. I received a Bachelor's and Master's degree from the Department of Sport and Leisure Studies at Yonsei University (laboratory of Exercise Medicine and Rehabilitation), one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea. Due to my passion for healthcare, I spent a lot of my time working with a patient population and in hospitals. The patient population that I have worked with during my research, volunteer and work include; Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and various types of cancer. I have authored 10 articles, 9 of which were published in SCI journals, with 7 more currently in review. I was on the path of academia, and was even offered a scholarship at a prestigious university (ranked top 10 in the world by subject), but a couple of key experiences made me re-evaluate what I really want to do with my life.
First, I spent six months of my Master’s degree at the University of Alberta (Canada), to work on a couple of international projects. During my time there, I went on a missions trip into the one of the First Nation’s (Aboriginal) Reserves. Although very different, I was oddly reminded of my childhood in Sri Lanka. The First Nation’s people were confined to reserves, suffering from both infectious and non-communicable diseases, with limited access to healthcare. My area of expertise was of some use, as it is focused on improving one’s health and quality of life, however, there was nothing that I could do to address their immediate medical needs, and I felt helpless. After returning to South Korea and completing my Master’s degree, the limits of my current career paths became clearer to me. I was dealing with health problems of the developed world, preventing and mitigating non-communicable diseases through physical activity and exercise, promoting a healthier lifestyle, and advocating for a healthier society. This was a very rewarding career, with increasing importance in the future, but I was reminded that my true passion is to help those in immediate need of medical care.
The second experience that I had, was on a recent trip to Sri Lanka (November 2017). It had been over 15 years since I last visited. The long civil war had ended, and it was the first time that I saw Sri Lanka from a more mature perspective. It is difficult to explain the emotions that I felt there, but it reaffirmed the thoughts that I had been thinking and reignited my sense of purpose—long suppressed—to serve the most vulnerable communities among us. Almost as soon as I got back to Korea, I started looking into possible MD options. Although it is not my story to tell, my fiancé was also thriving in academia (Master’s degree from the US and accepted to Cambridge), and decided to change her career path to medicine.
Both my fiancé and I have currently been accepted to 6-year MD programs (Bachelor and Master’s) in Eastern Europe. We chose these programs because they were taught in English, shorter in duration, accepted people like us (foreigners with no background in medicine) and because they were much cheaper than the programs in the USA/Canada. Although accepted, we are now facing the challenges that most medical students face: finances. Student loans from South Korea are only available for students studying in local institutions, and the countries to which we have applied only offer financial aid to EU nationals or those from developing countries.
I am starting this campaign to raise the funds needed for us to attend and graduate med-school. We were both quite successful academics, who decided to change careers in pursuit of what we believed was our true purpose. We are both hard working, and passionate about this field. In fact, one of the first things we did together as a couple was volunteer to a Medical Missions team in South Korea, which is a group of doctors/nurses/volunteers that go around the ‘plastic slums’ (see picture) of South Korea and provide medical care to those that are disenfranchised by the national health system, and do annual international trips to villages in countries like Cambodia (see picture) to offer medicine and healthcare there. We have seen and worked with inspiring health care professionals that use their time and resources to serve those in need and this is also what we aspire to do. Also, I would like honor my parents by following their example and living a life of servitude to those in need. The money that we receive will pay for our tuition, and in the case that we receive more, it will be spent towards the successful completion of our education, so that we too, can give back to those in need.
We are hoping to raise $32,000, which is the school tuition (roughly $16,000 per person) for the first year. This, obviously is not the solution to our problems, but the university offers scholarships from the second year, so we hope to significantly cut school tuition in the future. Through this campaign, we are hoping to find someone or some organization that can offer us some sort of long term solution.
We are open to all forms of financial aid, whether in the form of one-time donation, or more regular long term sponsorship. If there are people with the money, or organizations with the resources to offer something similar to a student loan (start paying back when we start earning), please get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you and I would be happy to send you more information about me (credentials etc).
Any financial help you can offer is greatly appreciated. If you can pass this on to someone with the resources to help and/or who may be interested, that will also be of much help.
I hope to look back on this moment 10/20 years from now and tell those around me about how I got here and how they too should pursue their dreams.
Please feel free to contact me via email if you have questions. We would love to hear from you and get to know you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this far!
We hope to be able to update you with good news soon!
With much love and gratitude,
Hyuk In (David) Yang [email protected]
and Seullee (Talia) Lee (my fiancé)
**Important** Due to high fees with payment through GGF in South Korea, all donations will be sent to Seullee's US account.