Last year, 7,308 students applied to UCSF medical school. 149 were accepted. But only one student in next year's class is undocumented and that's me. It's the first time UCSF has ever accepted an undocumented student.
My family came to California when I was nine. My parents worked at Thai restaurants 'til 11:00 pm every night. Whenever I tried to help the answer never changed: "Don't worry, and do your job." My job was to get an education.
Growing up, it never occurred to me to see a doctor. We had the immigrant mindset where life was about surviving, not living. We kept our heads down, worked, studied. Our health was secondary.
We had this big cabinet full of medicine we'd go to when we got sick. It was packed with pain killers, cold and flu medicine, ointments, some old antibiotics from Thailand.
My junior year we took my mom to the emergency room. Bleeding excessively, she fainted. She couldn't understand the doctors and they couldn't understand her. I translated, but wanted to do more for her. That's when I first thought: "I want to become a doctor."