Victoria T. Shih – DiversityJobs Scholarship Finalist for December 2011’s scholarship program for diversity and minority students is proud to announce Victoria T. Shih as one of the three finalists for its December deadline application. Vote for her essay by clicking the thumbs up button at the bottom of the page, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

Victoria T. Shih’s Essay:

How did you choose your major? What obstacles have you had to overcome and what will it mean to you to graduate with this degree?

In a recent Tea Party presidential debate, CNN moderator Wolf Blizer’s asked hypothetical question to presidential candidate, Ron Paul, about whether an uninsured 30 year working man in a coma should be treated. Paul responded “What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself” where audience members then cheered, and after a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”

Three years ago, my mom was laid off from the company where she had been working for twenty five years. Along with her salary, she lost a generous health benefits package that provided quality healthcare for my family. The plight of the uninsured hit home as I often imagine what if one of my family members had became seriously ill during this period. Without health insurance, the financial burden of a costly medical condition can easily wipe out the lifetime savings and hard work of a middle or working class family. Yet Paul and his audience shockingly stated that they are willing to leave 50.9 million uninsured people to die on the streets demonstrating a stunning lack of apathy.

My decision to enter the field of public health with a concentration in public policy and management arose from my understanding of the plight of the uninsured and disadvantaged. The social injustice and inequality that has arisen within the United State’s current health care system is simply unacceptable. The major issues I discovered were the inability for the members of each health industry to think beyond themselves: to consider the long term impact of their decisions and actions by putting larger interests above their own. Medical facilities are unwilling to lower costs of inexpensive procedures, drug companies are charging exorbitant rates for cheap drugs, insurance companies are charging hefty premiums, and healthy individuals are unwilling to pay for insurance until they get sick. From both my studies and life experiences, my interest with public health policy has grown, fueled by the fact that millions including my neighbors, family, and friends are denied access to life saving procedures, drugs, and health services on a daily basis.

My college degree in public health represents much more than personal academic achievement. It represents the cumulative hard work and successes of my parents and grandparents. All four of my grandparents could not afford to attend college, but   valued education highly. My grandfather immigrated to the United States when he was fourteen years old. He originally worked as a cook in the ghettoes of New York. Later, he was drafted into the US army to fight in World War II. When my grandfather was my age, he served as a cook in the army to contribute to the war effort. He landed on D-Day on the chaotic beaches of Normandy, France, and then marched with his army platoon all the way to Berlin, Germany till the end of the war. After the war, he settled with my grandmother and opened a tiny grocery store. My grandparents struggled through financial difficulties, yet resolutely instilled in my mom the value of education. My grandfather was able to send all of his children to college through scholarships and loans. My grandparents’ value of education has been passed down to me.

Therefore, my college degree represents my family’s value of education as well as the difficulties and burdens that my family has overcome. The college degree will allow me to pursue a career that I am passionate about while creating the foundation for success.  It represents a treasured opportunity to move forward to have a better life.