StoryCorps at SHC: Kelvin Yu and Thu Nguyen

I started as a business major, just because I wanted to rebel from my parents who always wanted me to do medicine.

Thu Nguyen (TN): My dad, he graduated as a medical doctor and he went to do his residency in France for three years and I didn't even miss him because he was always gone when I was growing up. I grew up with two physician parents. And to me medicine back then was the thing that took my parents away. I didn't really make an effort to learn what they do. It's just that I knew that they're almost always away to the point that I'm Asian, I came from Asia, but I don't know how to use chopstick properly.

Kelvin Yu (KY): I understand you want to be in the medical field.

TN: I started as a business major just because I wanted to rebel from my parents who always wanted to me to do medicine. Three years in and I couldn't really see any purpose of my study. And then one afternoon I was just walking home from school and I saw a lady in a wheelchair and she was struggling to go up the ramp. So I just thought, well, she's on my way. So I came to help her. And then she thanked me later. And I think that was the first time I felt so helpful in my life. And it make me feel so good that I feel good for the whole week. And then I realized that maybe I should look and see if I really like what I'm doing right now.

And then I started interviewing people from different professions and surprise, I relate to my dad the most. Obviously, I never talked to him before, but when I start asking, he start telling. And if you ever lived in an Asian household, they don't share feelings, they share facts. So my dad shared his story in a more factual way. He was just telling me all his cases but I knew from his voice that he was really proud.

There's so many times that he left the house at midnight or 1:00 or 3:00 AM but then he came home without complaining. And the next day he just left at 7:00 again. And he was telling me how one day he came in and he was able to save a child being hit by a car. So I related to him more than I related to any other professions that I talked to. And so I changed my major to biochemistry.

It wasn't an easy change. Everything I have ever learned was in Vietnamese, it's not useful at all. So I started as a blank piece of paper, and eventually I graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State.

KY: Oh, good. Very good.

TN: I sent in the application to 37 medical schools already. I did get an interview at UC Davis and I'm going to be interviewing there in August.

KY: I believe your parents must love you a lot. But did you ever hear them say, I love you?

TN: Never. Never. That's not happening. Maybe when I get to medical school, my dad was spill it at work one day. (laughs).

Sound Editor: Gabriel Maisonnave

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