Difference Makers: SF teen helps peers pursue a future in medicine

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a San Francisco high school student has created a program to teach young people the importance of medicine.

Viva Voong, a junior at Lowell High School, said her inspiration to start Youth in Pre Med came at the start of the crisis when scientists started talking about developing a vaccine.

“Seeing the news about new drugs, vaccines and antibodies being created to help treat patients with COVID-19 gave a spark to society that we can recover from this pandemic and that our lives could return to normal,” Voong said.

She formed Youth in Pre Med to give people her age the resources they need to pursue a career in medicine if they choose to.

“I wanted to start my program to inspire students and give them the resources to go into the field of medicine so that in the future we can be the spark of hope that society sees during times of hardships,” Voong said.

Her program arranges for doctors from Kaiser Permanente and medical students from Stanford University to speak at virtual presentations about their careers in the medical field. She also gives students advice for applications, interviews and public speaking skills.

A presentation by Youth in Pre Med
A presentation by Youth in Pre Med Photo credit Youth in Pre Med

Voong has been able to help over 100 students at 30 schools across the Bay Area. She says in the future there will be more pandemics to come, many people don't have access to healthcare and others will lose their lives to incurable diseases. However, there is still hope.

“By inspiring more students to take part in the field of medicine during future pandemics, we can help create a vaccine faster and learn from this current pandemic,” she said.

If you know someone who is working to keep us safe during the coronavirus pandemic and would like to nominate them as a KCBS Radio Difference Maker, email differencemakers@kcbsradio.com.