On any given day, more than 27,000 medical volunteers working with Doctors Without Borders save the lives of people worldwide who are living in the midst of armed conflicts, natural disasters, and health epidemics.
And if Secaucus resident Sara Kim gets her wish, one day she’ll be among those volunteers.
Still a high school senior at High Tech High School in North Bergen, Kim has a way to go before she can realize her dream. But a prestigious New Jersey scholarship recently offered to Kim may help her reach her that goal. Kim was recently named an Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar.
The award is offered to more than 5,000 New Jersey high school seniors each year who rank among the top three students in their class and who ranked within the top 10 percent of their class junior year. Seniors who don’t rank among the top three may also be eligible for the scholarship if they had a combined SAT reading and math score of 1260 and ranked within the top 10 percent of their junior class.
Scholarship recipients receive $1,000 each year for tuition if they attend college in New Jersey. Kim is one of 11 High Tech High School seniors to receive a Bloustein scholarship this year.
“I really want to be a doctor who does humanitarian work,” Kim said in an interview from her school last week. “I’ve done a little research on Doctors Without Borders and I think I might like to do some work with them. I’m thinking I might like to work somewhere either in Africa or South America.”
Kim, whose parents emigrated from Korea, said she sees herself ultimately becoming a “mission doctor” who travels to developing nations to do medical service work.
“I always had it mind to become a doctor because I have doctors in my family and it was always kind of drilled into my head, ‘Be a doctor!’ ” Kim said last week. “But actually, I never really thought I would go into medicine until I came to High Tech and started taking science-related subjects and realized that I really liked science.”
At High Tech, where students get to select majors in their junior year – similar to college – Kim chose a concentration in science. The science program there, she said, “allowed me to explore a lot of science subjects and I also got to do some research.”
Kim said her “dream” college is Brown University in Providence, R.I., although she is also considering the accelerated BA/MD program at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Through the program, students earn a joint undergraduate and medical degree in seven years, rather than the usual eight, thus saving money on tuition. They can also skip taking the grueling MCAT exam.
“It would be a good program for me because I don’t come from the richest family, so I wouldn’t have to pay tuition for the full eight years,” Kim said. “And I wouldn’t have to worry so much about having to apply for medical school after completing college.”
If Kim attends Brown she will not be able to use the Bloustein scholarship, since the university is an out-of-state institution. She will be able to use the scholarship money if she attends TCNJ, however.
At this point in time, Kim is considering being some type of surgeon, although she said she’ll keep her options open until she actually gets to medical school.
The Bloustein scholarship is one of several offered by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) through the Garden State Scholarship Program. More than 7,000 New Jersey students receive scholarships through the program each year.
For more information about the HESAA’s scholarships, call 800-792-8670 or visit www.hesaa.org.