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Vietnamese Student Named UMass Boston JFK Award Winner
Date:5/13/2010

erica as a non-native speaker, I was leaving my dreams of becoming a leader behind. ... Now it seems like everything is possible. I feel like I can do it all.”

Do plans on becoming a doctor and hopes to eventually be a leader in her field, finding solutions to national and global health issues like health disparity and the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Growing up just outside of Saigon, Vietnam, she witnessed HIV and AIDS take hold of many young people who had turned to drugs and prostitution in a neighborhood where the fight for food and survival was more important than education.

Her determination to fight HIV and AIDS was further cultivated during a trip to Cape Town, South Africa with the University Honors Program in January. Do again saw firsthand the social, economic, and political aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic there, volunteering in local clinics.

“I had made a commitment to devote all my life, my skill, and talent to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Do said. “The South Africa trip has provided an opportunity for me to look deeply into my soul and helped me reveal and confirm my passion in life.”

When Do graduates this spring, she will head to Bethesda, Maryland to work side by side with some of the world’s leading scientists as one of just 16 finalists selected from 600 applicants nationwide to receive the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) Academy fellowship. She will spend a year engaged in biomedical research at NIH, working toward the elimination of domestic health disparities. Then she plans to attend medical school.

Do’s professors say she will make an excellent doctor and researcher.

“At our very first meeting, I sensed in Thao not just a sharp mind but a relentlessly questing intellect,” said Rajini Srikanth, director of the University Honors Program at UMass Boston. “She is not satisfied with what she knows and is
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