I’m from a very small town in Idaho called Kendrick, with a population of 369. One day I came across an email that said I had been nominated to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in a major city of my choice because of my interest in becoming a doctor. Although it sounded great, I knew there was no way I would be able to do this due to expense, not to mention I would have to fly there by myself, which may not be a big deal to most people, but you have to remember how small of a community I live in. No one around here gets to do anything big like that.
I just tried to let the idea go, but then I got a call from my grandmother. She said that my mother had told her about the email, and she said that she’d pay for everything! She told me that I had a lot of potential, and just because my mom couldn’t really afford it and I lived in a non-successful community, that didn’t mean that I shouldn’t be able to seize this opportunity while I had the chance. I decided to attend the forum at UCLA. I couldn’t thank her enough. This meant the world to me.
The day of my trip came, and my mom drove me to the Spokane Airport to catch my plane. I’d never been so nervous in my life. What if I got lost in LAX or missed my shuttle? I became very scared as my plane was leaving. It was hard to hold back the tears. Amazingly enough, I was able to switch planes in Salt Lake City and make it onto my shuttle in Los Angeles with only a few minor complications.
Instantly after finding my seat on the bus, quite a few other teenagers started talking to me. They were all attending the forum as well. We were all telling each other where we were from and talking about our lives and about ourselves. Everyone was way nicer than I had expected. My nervousness almost completely eased up.
After getting settled into our dorms at UCLA, everybody attended a med session, which is where we did a lot of our learning. Everyone was split into groups named after a famous person in the field of medicine. Our group name was Freud. In just a day or two, we became best friends. I made more friends there than I have my whole life in my hometown. Besides just learning about different people from all around the United States, I learned about all the things going on in the world of medicine. We got to visit different hospitals and colleges and talk to doctors and professors. We got to watch a surgery and listen to speeches given by some of the most inspirational doctors in the area. I was even on a debate team that argued about universal healthcare. I felt more sophisticated than I ever had before.
On the last several days of the forum, we went to Universal Studios, had a dance at a beautiful hotel, and went to the Santa Monica Pier. Those few days there were the best days in my life. If I didn’t miss my family so much, I would have stayed longer! This experience really opened my eyes to how big the world really was and how many different and amazing people there are. Now I want to see more of the world and help the people in it. I want to live a life that’s truly worth living.
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