Five students from the UC Davis School of Medicine on May 5 received scholarships awarded annually by UC Davis Health System’s Leadership Council.
Receiving scholarships of $5,000 were Elizabeth Brannan, Zhanetta Harrison, Brooke Vuong, David Jeffcoach, and David Gunn.
The Leadership Council is a volunteer group of community advocates who are committed to building awareness of and support for UC Davis Health System throughout the Sacramento region and beyond. Members act as ambassadors to the Community and as architects of private philanthropic support. The council’s Walter W. Rohrer Medical Student Scholarship Fund awards scholarship to UC Davis medical students who meet these criteria:
- Demonstrated leadership qualities and skills
- Community involvement — activities as a volunteer or in extracurricular nonprofit work
- Academic success
- Demonstrated potential to become top performers in the medical field
- Financial need
Brannan’s interest in medicine came after watching doctors and other health professionals guided her family through the loss of four of its members to cancer – all within three years of one another. Though an elementary school student at the time, the experience made a lasting impression on Brannan and served as the catalyst for her desire not only to practice medicine, but to practice the art of healing. After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in human biology and a concentration in health policy, she spent two years teaching full-time as a course associate in Stanford’s human biology department, where she also was appointed the head course associate for the human biology department. Brannan served for four years on the Committee on Educational Policy, which is charged with overseeing the medical school’s curriculum. She also volunteered at the Davis Community Clinic and served as a co-facilitator for the Doctoring course. Brannan plans to pursue a career in pediatrics and child psychiatry.
Harrison’s family emigrated from Lithuania to Sacramento when she was 11 years old. Having spent hours watching her mother, a surgical nurse in Lithuania, Harrison developed an early interest in medicine that would be rekindled as a college student at CSU-Sacramento. Harrison enrolled as a student at UC Davis School of Medicine after obtaining two bachelor’s degrees at Sac State and attending UC Davis’ post baccalaureate program. Harrison participated in several mission trips to Russia and Ukraine, where she worked with children in orphanages. After two successive trips to Nicaragua to work in rural health clinics, Harrison played a key role in assisting eight Nicaraguan medical students and their dean travel to the U.S. for an academic visit. She served as the co-director of the SHIFA Clinic, a community clinic that serves Sacramento’s Muslim community. Harrison intends to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology, with the hope of securing a gynecologic oncology fellowship after her residency.
Vuong is a first-generation American born to Vietnamese immigrants. After her parents divorced at the age of two, Brooke lived with her mother in Texas for many years until her maternal aunt encouraged her to relocate to California to escape her abusive mother and reconnect with her father. Vuong attended Occidental College in Los Angeles after receiving the Coca Cola Scholarship and the Margaret Bundy Scholarship. At Occidental, Brooke received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and minored in diplomacy and world affairs. Prior to beginning her studies at UC Davis School of Medicine, Vuong received her master’s of health administration from the University of Southern California. As an undergraduate, Brooke volunteered at the Los Angeles County — USC General Hospital, where she felt an immediate connection to the patients receiving care there. While at UC Davis, she volunteered at the Imani Clinic and also served on the board of directors for the Latino Medical Student Association and the Student National Medical Association. Among her personal priorities are increasing access to health care for the medically underserved and ensuring the delivery of culturally responsive health care. Drawn to an acute inpatient setting, Vuong intends to become a trauma surgeon or emergency medicine physician, incorporating her health administration and policy training into her career where possible.
Jeffcoach grew up as the oldest son in a family that had spent seven generations farming in the San Joaquin Valley. He spent summers volunteering with his family in Costa Rica, building outhouses and small homes for families in need — an experience which would figure prominently in his adventurous pursuit of his future. Jeffcoach spent one of his high school years in Denia, Spain as party of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. After graduating from high school, Jeffcoach took six months to travel — to learn about other cultures and refine his further study of Spanish. Having taken advantage of the offerings at local junior college, he transferred to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he pursued dual degrees in ecology and systematic biology and modern languages and literature. Having determined that medicine was what truly interested him, Jeffcoach spent a year studying in Germany, where, to increase his understanding of German and to gain exposure to the field of medicine, he volunteered three days a week at the Eberhard Karls University (in Tuebingen, Germany) Hospital’s General and Transplant Surgery floor. While at UC Davis School of Medicine, has participated in several medical missionary trips, including one to Ecuador and another to Peru. Jeffcoach was the student leader for the Christian Medical Fellowship trip to Honduras, where the organization partnered with Med Missions to bring a group of 27 medical students and community doctors to the area. He has served as the co-director of the health system’s community clinics, Clinica Tepati and helped to start another clinic, the Crossroads Clinic. Combining his passion for medicine with his love of foreign cultures, Jeffcoach intends to practice medicine in developing countries.
As a child, Gunn had the values of charity, generosity, honesty and hard work instilled in him by his parents. His father a World War II veteran and accomplished musician, Gunn learned an early appreciation for personal sacrifice and music. It was his passion for music that helped define him as a young person and which shaped his early academic pursuits, including a bachelor’s degree in electronic music from the University of Oregon and a master’s of fine arts from Mills College. Gunn was hired as a composer and project manager by Leapfrog Toys, working on Disney and Pixar titles, music education and interactive books on phonics. One of his projects at Leapfrog brought him in close contact with members of the Afghan community, for which a specific educational tool on basic health topics was being developed. His experiences with the Afghan people who helped develop and directly benefitted from the book stayed with him, igniting a passion for service and a desire to become a physician. Gunn’s passion for education and service have remained constant, resulting in him organizing a debate on health-care reform, and serving as the organizer for several student fundraisers, including the MEDICOS initiative and the body donor memorial service. Gunn also volunteered at the Paul Hom Community Clinic and serves as the features editor for Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine magazine. Gunn would like to eventually practice medicine in a small, rural community.