Over the years, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation has routinely awarded college scholarships to high school seniors who aspire to become physicians. By providing students with tuition money and mentorship, PAMF aims to nurture the next generation of caregivers while also giving back to the community.
For the first time ever, past scholars came together with current recipients of other PAMF professional scholars at a luncheon in August. The event honored the 2019 scholarship winners and celebrated the awards’ role in helping recipients follow their dreams.
Keynote speaker Richard Liang, a Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group Pre-Medical Scholar, shared the impact the grant made for him while attending the University of California, Los Angeles and preparing to attend Stanford University School of Medicine this fall. As many scholars before him have noted, Richard says he greatly appreciates the money, but the counsel he receives from his mentors, including PAMF pediatrician Judi Yamamoto, M.D., has made an even bigger impact.
“There were times during college and the medical school application process that my mentors were so important,” Richard says. “I knew they had my best interests in mind without any judgment. Dr. Yamamoto attended UCLA for medical school, and the ability to check in with her throughout college helped keep me connected to my long-term goals.”
Richard also credits the scholarship for enabling him to spend a gap year conducting research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. As an undergrad, the money allowed him to accept an unpaid internship for college credit at the hospital, which then became a paid job for his gap year. He also volunteered at community health events, helping to serve uninsured people and non-English speakers. These experiences reinforced his commitment to medicine and public health, especially whenever his course load became extra challenging.
“Richard was a star from the start, and I am so happy to have been paired with him as a mentor and to see him starting medical school at Stanford,” Dr. Yamamoto says. “He is energized by helping other people and has developed an interest in global health. Frankly, his enthusiasm is infectious and reminds me of why I went into medicine.”