University of California, Irvine

Humans of GMT

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Name: Cindy Wong

Year: Senior (4th Year)

Major: Developmental & Cell Biology

Favorite GMT Memory

“My favorite memory from GMT was when I went to my first Nicaragua trip in the summer of 2014. During one of our free nights after a long clinic day, my GMT family shared a meal and went dancing together in the pouring rain along the beach coast of San Juan Del Sur. While having a thrilling night in the thunderous weather, a tsunami warning was sent out. We packed our bags and huddled together in the bus during the middle of the night while we drove off to a safer location. That night will carry on forever with me, because at that moment, I felt so loved and happy to be alive while we all slept together on the bus, trembling in fear.”

Something I am Proud Of

“Organizing Project RAMP have changed my appreciation for children. Although this project was handed down to me after it just began, I am so happy with what it became. The children look forward to RAMP and seeing their mentors every month. After a year, I cant believe how fast they have all grown, not only physically but mentally. They are all such bright children, and I have learned so much from interacting with them. Every time I go, I feel so rewarded, knowing that I helped them advance in their studies. The smiles on their faces are priceless once they realize they can read short stories or solve a difficult math problem all by themselves.”

If you could redo your college experience all over, would you and why or why not?

I am happy with all the involvements I became a part of. I’ve been touched by so many people during college, that now I have greater confidence in facing the real world.”

Graduation

“It’s a bitter sweet moment. I am proud of what I have accomplished here, but I am ready to let go and get a taste of reality. What I will miss most is seeing my friends in class, going over to each other’s houses to study and basically knowing that I am surrounded by my friends at all times.”

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Name: Phuc Nguyen Ngo

Year: 1st year

Major: Biological Sciences

What is your most memorable freshmen experience right now?

“My most memorable freshmen experience so far would have to be when I began my volunteering at Karate For All. On my first shift of my first day, I was introduced to a cute, small Asian kid as my partner for the rest of our time there. Severely anxious, shy, and initially unmotivated to do karate, my goal was to affect him in a positive way and help him get over his weaknesses. Now, about 7 weeks later, he is enthusiastic and I like to think that he enjoys every moment we spend together.”

How did you hear about GMT and what is your favorite GMT Event we have had so far?

“It began as a hall social with two other halls. I forgot what one of the hall was, but the other hall was Whispering Wood. If I remember correctly, we were making stress balls. Some time during the social, I was introduced to Mimi Lyang, the RA of Whispering Wood and luckily my future mentor. I told her my major, she asked me to go to an upcoming meeting, and the rest was history. My favorite GMT event has to be Project Ramp. I take pride in making a difference in younger generation’s lives and I grateful and honored that I was able to do it with GMT.”

If you could go back in time and tell your freshmen self something you wish you knew, what would you say?

“Don’t take 8am classes you fool. Buy the 7-day meal plan instead of the 100-block because you WILL run out of swipes. Study harder than how you will tell your self to study. You will run into people that will become important to you, so don’t worry. Stay motivated.”

 

What do you suggest to next years freshmen in terms of overcoming difficulties at UCI? and what was the most challenging things you have done so far?

“To incoming freshmen: Most challenges you come across are challenges by choice.  Take your chances and attempt all your challenges because your first year in college is the most forgiving and the time period for trial and error. You will want to know how to adapt to UCI quickly and attempting all your challenges will ensure your success. The most challenging thing that I have done so far is adjusting to the quarter system. The classes and quarters seem to proceed at an alarming rate at first and keeping up with academics proved to be difficult. Finding motivation to work and inspiration from my friends and peers has pushed me to overcome this problem and allowed me to adapt.”

How did you hear about GMT and what is your favorite GMT Event we have had so far?

-It began as a hall social with two other halls. I forgot what one of the hall was, but the other hall was Whispering Wood. If I remember correctly, we were making stress balls. Some time during the social, I was introduced to Mimi Lyang, the RA of Whispering Wood and luckily my future mentor. I told her my major, she asked me to go to an upcoming meeting, and the rest was history. My favorite GMT event has to be Project Ramp. I take pride in making a difference in younger generation’s lives and I grateful and honored that I was able to do it with GMT.

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Name: Ashleigh Wong

Year: 4th Year

Major: Biological Sciences

What does Relay for Life mean to you?

“It’s hard to put into words what Relay means to me because it’s not just an organization that is helping to find a cure for cancer. I mean, that’s what you initially tell people when they ask what it is. You say, “Oh it’s a 24-hour event where people walk to raise money for cancer research.” That in itself is one hell of an answer. And you know that it sounds impressive by people’s reactions: “Wow 24 hours? That’s an amazing cause.”

But Relay does more than raise money, it provides support, encouragement, hope. It provides a place for not only people who have been diagnosed with cancer, but for anyone who has been affected by cancer. Friends, families, coworkers. For me, it has provided a place where I can remember the people that I have personally lost in a beautiful way. It’s my place to play a small part in the hope that one day, there will not be any more phone calls made with the devastating news that cancer has hit home.”

How do you think the type of energy and uplifting spirits from these events can be translated to actual beside healthcare? Do you think there should be more of these events, if so, how?

“I think that this particular event in an of itself is surrounded by so much more than healthcare. The ultimate goal, yes, is to raise money for research, but everything leading up to the event and the event itself is about celebration. It’s about celebrating life and loved ones. It’s about appreciating those who are still with us and remembering those who have passed. It’s about remembering that there is so much more to life that your 9-5 job. It teaches us to appreciate every second that you have with the people you love because cancer is sneaky. It’ll blindside you without a second thought. So to be around those who understand that and who don’t take every day for granted, that’s just something you don’t see much of anymore.

And in regards to having more of these events? There are a lot out there already, you just have to look for them. I personally think that Relay for Life has such a big impact all around the country that there doesn’t need to be anything else like it. Its message is too unique to want to emulate it.” 

Was this your first Relay for Life Experience? if not, when was it and also what was your most memorable experience from the night?

“This was not my first Relay for Life, I’ve actually been participating in this event since I was younger and I remember being really happy my freshman year when I found out that UCI held it’s own Relay.

From this past Relay, my most memorable experience was during the luminaria. To see everyone come together in solidarity to honor those we have lost was an incredible sight to see. As we walked around Aldrich Park looking at all the luminarias dedicated to our loved ones, it was so apparent that in that moment, we were lighting up the night. We were making a difference. We were fighting back.”

 

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Humans of GMT: PART TWO

Hello GMT! Before spring break, we interviewed Julie Vu, a fourth year Biological Sciences Major who was excited to embark on her very first journey to Dominican Republic! Since returning we did a follow up interview to see how much that experience had made an impact on her! If you haven’t read part one, check it out on our website(below) where you can also find other Humans of GMT!

Are you having DR withdrawals and if you could fly back and experience it all over again, would you? And why?

“Of course I’m having withdrawals! And I will always be! I would love to experience it all over again because I had a such a wonderful time bonding with my GMT family and the people of Dominican Republic! Before the trip, I had no idea that it would turn out to be life-changing for me. Thanks to the GMT staff, I learned so much throughout the trip about patient interaction, common diseases, and the culture in DR. I was also happy to utilize my basic Spanish language skills with the patients and people of DR! Every day was filled with just so much fun and learning! From helping patients; playing with the children there; learning how to dance bachata, salsa, and merengue; snorkeling; to cliff-jump diving for the first time! By the end of the trip, I created many friendships with friends from UCI, UCSD, and DR. I will always cherish the experiences and memories I made on this trip. The time invested and money spent was all worth the amazing experience I had; I have no regrets.  I recommend every pre-health student to go on a medical mission trip!”

Before heading to DR, what was your biggest worries? And since returning, have those worries disappeared?

“I was most worried about contracting illnesses on the trip such as mosquito-borne diseases like the Zika virus. I was also worried about getting to know everyone since I knew only a couple friends going on the trip. However, these worries have easily disappeared after coming back from DR.

Throughout the trip, no one that I knew of had been affected by serious illnesses.   There were only minor sicknesses, where some people including me had gotten the cold while several others had bad reactions to mosquito/spider bites. Although it was unfortunate that I had caught the cold and acquired a lot of mosquito bites in DR, being able to help out over 1000 patients as a team within four days was worth it for me.

As for getting to know people on the trip, I thought it would be difficult meeting everyone since there were so many new faces, but I was wrong. I didn’t realize that I would be spending time with everyone all day every day. I was easily meeting new people every day! By the end of the trip, everyone, including the GMT staff and students, felt really close after sharing the experience together. That is why we call ourselves GMT family.

What is something you would want to change in DR in order to improve quality of healthcare to those who are unable to get regular check ups?

“To improve DR’s healthcare, I think it would be great if the government there or some kind of organization could set up mobile free-clinics and visit all the impoverished communities at least once a month if possible. Another helpful thing to do is to set up water-purifying stations in those communities because I know they have trouble having access to clean water.  Some of the patients I had seen  in DR were adding bleach to dirty water to kill the germs and drink it. I was heartbroken to hear about this in person. Overall, I believe setting up mobile clinics and having water-purifiers would significantly improve the people’s health over there!”

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Name: Ruby Yoakim

Year: 4th Year

Major: Biological Sciences

What does presidency mean to you?

“Being president is like working on giant puzzle. You have all these pieces that you need to put together and you have an idea of what the bigger picture is but there are so many pieces that you just don’t know where to start. For me, I wanted to bring something new to this club and I had all these ideas; I had the puzzle in front of me, but I didn’t know where to start. If it wasn’t for the encouragement of those before me and the help from my fellow board members, I would still be stuck trying to find the first two pieces of the puzzle. I look back at everything we have accomplished this year and cannot help but think that nothing would have been possible without the level of commitment from everyone in this club. So, to everyone who has contributed to the club in the past year, even in the smallest of ways, Thank You.”

What was the most rewarding experience you had throughout your entire GMT experience, from being a general member to now serving your last term as current president?

“Besides the trips, the most rewarding experience was during my first year on board as the fundraising co-chair. I loved the hands-on experience of planning and executing a fundraiser. The time I spent boothing on ring road I was able to get to know so many other people in the club and I was able to talk to people on ring road about GMT. I grew out of my comfort zone and made a lot of new friends.”

What is one legacy you want to leave behind and why?

“When I started as President, I knew I had very big shoes to fill. The last two generations were great sources of inspiration and I really wanted to continue the growth of the club. The legacy I wish to leave for the next generations is that this club is a community, a family that knows no bounds and will continue to become a place on campus where people can feel comfortable enough to be themselves.”

How has being the president of GMT changed your life?

“One way my life has changed from being President was learning about my own leadership style and gaining the confidence to be a leader. This club has given me a sense of certainty in myself. Growing up, I was always moving to different schools or towns and I never felt myself grounded. Coming to UCI, I wanted to find something I could dedicate myself to and when I joined this club I knew instantly that I had found it. This club and the family that came with it soon became something I could call my own and it is something I will always be grateful for.”

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Name: Julie Vu

Year: 4th Year

Major: Biological Sciences

Hello GMT! Before spring break, we interviewed Julie Vu, a fourth year Biological Sciences Major who was excited to embark on her very first journey to Dominican Republic! Since returning we did a follow up interview to see how much that experience had made an impact on her! If you haven’t read part one, check it out on our website(below) where you can also find other Humans of GMT!

Are you having DR withdrawals and if you could fly back and experience it all over again, would you? And why?

“Of course I’m having withdrawals! And I will always be! I would love to experience it all over again because I had a such a wonderful time bonding with my GMT family and the people of Dominican Republic! Before the trip, I had no idea that it would turn out to be life-changing for me. Thanks to the GMT staff, I learned so much throughout the trip about patient interaction, common diseases, and the culture in DR. I was also happy to utilize my basic Spanish language skills with the patients and people of DR! Every day was filled with just so much fun and learning! From helping patients; playing with the children there; learning how to dance bachata, salsa, and merengue; snorkeling; to cliff-jump diving for the first time! By the end of the trip, I created many friendships with friends from UCI, UCSD, and DR. I will always cherish the experiences and memories I made on this trip. The time invested and money spent was all worth the amazing experience I had; I have no regrets.  I recommend every pre-health student to go on a medical mission trip!”

Before heading to DR, what was your biggest worries? And since returning, have those worries disappeared?

“I was most worried about contracting illnesses on the trip such as mosquito-borne diseases like the Zika virus. I was also worried about getting to know everyone since I knew only a couple friends going on the trip. However, these worries have easily disappeared after coming back from DR.

Throughout the trip, no one that I knew of had been affected by serious illnesses.   There were only minor sicknesses, where some people including me had gotten the cold while several others had bad reactions to mosquito/spider bites. Although it was unfortunate that I had caught the cold and acquired a lot of mosquito bites in DR, being able to help out over 1000 patients as a team within four days was worth it for me.

As for getting to know people on the trip, I thought it would be difficult meeting everyone since there were so many new faces, but I was wrong. I didn’t realize that I would be spending time with everyone all day every day. I was easily meeting new people every day! By the end of the trip, everyone, including the GMT staff and students, felt really close after sharing the experience together. That is why we call ourselves GMT family.

What is something you would want to change in DR in order to improve quality of healthcare to those who are unable to get regular check ups?

“To improve DR’s healthcare, I think it would be great if the government there or some kind of organization could set up mobile free-clinics and visit all the impoverished communities at least once a month if possible. Another helpful thing to do is to set up water-purifying stations in those communities because I know they have trouble having access to clean water.  Some of the patients I had seen  in DR were adding bleach to dirty water to kill the germs and drink it. I was heartbroken to hear about this in person. Overall, I believe setting up mobile clinics and having water-purifiers would significantly improve the people’s health over there!”

What is your fondest memory of when you were younger?

From what I can think of, my fondest memory would have to be when I first traveled out of the U.S. with my family to Mexico. The thrill of not knowing what to expect traveling outside the country had made me realize how much I love to travel and experience new cultures and activities while creating priceless memories with my beloved family.

On a scale of 1-10 how excited are you for your up and coming trip to DR (Dominican Republic)? and Would you say you are ready? (packed etc.)

I am definitely excited at a scale of 10 out of 10! This will be my first medical mission trip ever and I am really thankful of GMT for letting me participate in this amazing opportunity. I have all my necessary items packed ready to go although it took some time to gather what I needed. What matters most is that I am ready to interact with patients and make the most out of my experience. I can’t wait to encounter the unexpected on this trip!

What is something you want to get out of this trip to DR? and How?

From this trip, I hope to bond with the people in Dominican Republic by utilizing my basic Spanish language skills to connect with them on a closer level while helping them out. I love to experience new things in life so I am really excited to be exposed to a new culture as well as to build up my clinical skills. It’s like killing two birds with one stone! Overall, I hope I will be able to put a smile on everyone’s faces by the end of the day!

 

 

Colman

Colman Leung

4th year

Chemistry major

“What is your fondest memory at UCI?”

Has to be the summer trip to Nicaragua with my GMT family. It changed my whole definition of medication because it’s more than just your knowledge of medicines. Care and love are more proper way to define that and it can change person’s life essentially. Before the trip, I never realize that happiness can have such a huge impact on people and obviously how important a smile means.

“What was an unexpected cultural detail you observed and lived through during your trip? How did you adapt to the new customs that you experienced while you were there?”

I would say it was their generosity and simplicity. Their culture was simple and full of happiness when I was there every day with them. It didn’t take long for me to adapt to these new customs and I realized how important we were to them in that seven days. On the day of visiting the shelter, most of the children were suffering cancers and couldn’t leave the hospital for a longer time. However, their optimism impressed me with such a big smile on their face every time I looked at them. Small things like a bubbles bottle or a bouncy ball was already able to bring smiles to them for days or weeks even. One of my methods to adapt their cultures was to put myself into their situation and think deep about what they were really needed. In this case, you will learn a lot by giving out your best to them.

“Of all the medical cases you saw, what was the most common illness that could have been prevented if seen in the United States? And how did you go about solving it?”

The most common illness that I saw in Nicaragua was Chikungunya and it was a virus that transmitted to people by mosquitoes which causes fever, joint pain, headache, or some other common symptoms.  Luckily, it’s rarely a case in the United States but people in Nicaragua couldn’t have the chance to avoid it. There is no medicine to specifically treat chikungunya infection at this point and I didn’t know that before I went on the trip. The only way I solved it was to prescribe some common medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen or tell them to rest and prevent dehydration.

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Name: Mimi

Year: 4th year

Major: Neurobiology

What makes you most happy?

“Seeing the people I love happy and getting to know people on a deeper level. And seeing my residents appreciate and like the things I plan for them.”

 

What is one quality you uniquely brought to the GMT trips that have helped the people there?

“One thing I believe that I brought to GMT trips I’ve been on is my desire to support and care for others. I believe I have a big heart — this can be good and bad at times. Sometimes I care too much, but most of the time it works well for me because I care a lot about my family and friends. As an RA, it takes a lot for me to care for all 81 of my residents and make sure all of them are receiving the attention and support that they all need. When going on GMT trips, it’s very easy to feel tired near the end of the trip and to start losing motivation. However, I believe that by having a big heart I was able to remind myself that each and every patient who came in to visit us was very thankful and appreciative to have us help them and that what we were doing meant a lot to them. With this reminder, I was able to approach each patient’s problems/case with a unique view each time, and to do the best I could to help diagnose them and truly help make a difference.”

What is something that GMT trip has changed about you now and what do you do differently back at home?

“One thing that I have done differently after going on two GMT trips is that I have definitely become more thankful for what I have. Seeing how different situations were in Nicaragua and Panama when compared to where we live definitely made me appreciate what I had and appreciate the everyday things that I am lucky enough to be able to do. Another thing is that going on these trips have served as a huge motivation for me to do well in school. Seeing how humble and hardworking the GMT doctors were helped me realize that this is what I want to do in the future, and that I will do anything I can to reach my goal.”