We continue to share a series of reflections made by Vincentian Lay Missionaries and Vincentian Mission Corps participants about their experience serving, how it has impacted their lives and how they continue to live the Vincentian Charism today.
Ever since grade school, community service has been a part of my life. An important part and an inquisitive part- it was something that intrigued me but did not consume me or drive my passion for life. It was not until I did my year of service with VMC that I discovered my purpose in life. I realized my calling was to continue to serve others and to work to improve issues of social injustice, whether this be through my job or simply in conversation with others.
After finishing my year of VMC, I moved to Milwaukee, WI to attend graduate school at Marquette University for physician assistant school. Until I moved to Milwaukee, I had no idea that it was deemed “the most segregated city in the United States.” To truly understand the segregation that is present in this beautiful lakeside city, one must live here. Doing simple daily tasks in my neighborhood such as grocery shopping, going out to eat, or taking a walk by the lake, I could not help but notice that I was the only minority around. Honestly, as an Asian minority, I recognize that I have not faced the same societal disparities as some of my other minority counterparts, but once I moved here I got a little taste of this. Furthermore, my physician assistant class was predominantly white and people of privilege, so I felt very different. Not only did I sometimes feel ostracized because of my race, but I also had a difficult time connecting with people who recognized that segregation is present here and this has hurt the city. This segregation has led to issues of racism, violence, inequities and disparities. At first, this was difficult and sad to deal with, but once I came to terms with it and surrounded myself with like-minded individuals, my mindset changed. I knew God led me to attend school in Milwaukee for a reason and I believe one big reason is so that I can make a positive change here.
During my third year of physician assistant school, I had the opportunity to rotate at many different hospitals in the city. Each hospital had a unique patient population- different races, socioeconomic status, levels of health literacy, and different health disparities. On each rotation, I appreciated everything I learned and the patients I was able to speak with, diagnose, and treat, however for months, something did not feel right. I was happy about making changes in the medical community, but often times I felt the patient population I was working with was not the right fit for me. It was not until 6 months into my rotations did I feel like something clicked. In January 2018, I had my Emergency Medicine rotation at a hospital in downtown Milwaukee called Aurora Sinai. The hospital is situated in a low-income neighborhood, serving predominantly minorities who are of low income and/or experiencing homelessness. Through this rotation, I had the opportunity to help people, whom I felt, I had a deep connection with- a connection that started forming during my year of service with VMC. These were my people! Not only could I take the opportunity to treat the poor and marginalized with justice, but I could connect them with the necessary resources to help them medically and socially. I enjoyed having the opportunity to link people with social workers, primary care providers, and local clinic resources.
After graduating physician assistant school, I decided to apply for a post-graduate fellowship program in Emergency Medicine. I applied to several programs on the east coast, but I also applied to the program at Aurora Sinai in Milwaukee. Ultimately, I was offered several different opportunities and decided to stay at Aurora Sinai. I remember making a pro-con list and one of my pros for Sinai, spelled in all capital letters said “FULFILLING YOUR LIFE MISSION.” After writing that, that is when I knew, staying here was the right thing to do. If it was not for my life changing experience through VMC, I would not be where I am today. I am so grateful for the opportunities that VMC has provided me and how the experience continues to affect my daily life.