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Fall 2023 Immigrant Student Scholarship Winner

Kirstenn Claire D Calaguas

Kirstenn is the Fall 2023 winner of the Law Office of Jae Lee Immigrant Student Scholarship. We are honored to support Kirstenn as she continues to pursue her educational goals at the University of South Florida. Read Kirstenn’s essay to learn about the sacrifices her family has made to make a life for themselves in the United States.

Kirstenn Claire D Calaguas

Read Kirstenn's Essay:

Coming from a poverty-stricken country, the Philippines, I value the gifts provided for my well-being. I am so blessed because my parents, Mini Crystal Chavez and Ken Chavez, have sacrificed so much for me. For example, my parents would eat “eggs and spam” or ramen while I was still in the Philippines to save money to get me here in the States. While I am already here in the States, we are still filled with debt. However, they never complained and were never late with my tuition for both my private middle school and private high school. They always thought of what is best for me and my future, and they are investing every penny that they have so I can pursue my dream, which is to become a doctor. They always looked at the bigger picture and were optimistic that money was not a problem because it would pay off when I become a renowned physician and investor.

In the grand spectrum, I dedicate everything I do to my parents. Becoming a physician can be grueling, but it all comes down to dedication, faith, and inspiration. Whenever I am passionate about a particular subject, I go beyond the expectations. Academically, I have pursued various courses in the Arts and Sciences, such as AP Biology, AP Physics, AP Environmental Science, and Honors Chemistry. I have also received a Vocal Scholarship that paid for my four-year quarterly tuition at my private high school, Archbishop Spalding, in Severn, MD. I have participated in various service projects, specifically Spalding in Severn, the Baltimore Hunger Project in Timonium, MD, and Bello Machre in Glen Burnie, MD. In Spalding, I have served numerous times, such as escorting students to the music room to earn the Spalding Music Scholarship, Sophomore Service, Athelas’ Institute Cards, Brown Bag Decorating after school, and so much more. For the Baltimore Hunger Project, I packed lunch bags to give to the children. Another place that I also consistently participated in Bello Machre, a non-profit that offers people with developmental disabilities the comfort, service, and support they need to live fulfilling lives. I have made cards, sang for them through a video, and donated countless Thanksgiving baskets and goods.

Recently, I completed all the preliminary onboarding paperwork and new volunteer orientation tasks to become a volunteer at AdventHealth Tampa, and I am waiting on the following steps to attend an interview and health screening. AdventHealth Tampa is dedicated to its mission: “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ.” The root of this mission is traced back to the original Creation event when God created life in all of perfection and beauty. The objective of the New Volunteer Experience is to acclimate new team members to AdventHealth’s Mission, Vision, and Values and provide precise information about the organization’s strategic goals with a patient safety focus. I’m committed to serving at least 100 hours consistently and reliably. I have also recently auditioned for USF Chamber Singers, a choir that performs advanced music and tours regionally, nationally, and internationally.

At the University of South Florida - Tampa Campus, I am majoring in Biomedical Sciences to understand and learn more about specific coursework in Medicine. My next four years at USF will serve as a pathway for my acceptance into medical school, and I intend to keep it that way. I promise that I will strive for perfect, or nearly perfect, grades, a 520+ on my MCAT, get as much exposure to medicine through clinicals, shadowing, internships, and research opportunities as possible, participate in various clubs such as HOSA: Future Health Professionals and USF Chamber Singers, and work with community services such as Feeding Tampa Bay.

I came here from the Philippines to the States to prove I am strong and capable of reaching the stars while keeping my feet on the ground.

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