Junior biology major Hanna Yu has always known she wanted to be a doctor, ever since she was a small child. But as she advanced in school, she found herself drawn more to English, literature, and history. According to Hanna, she didn’t expect to enjoy biology, “because I’m not very naturally inclinedβ€”sciences are not my forte.”

In high school, Hanna learned to find a balance between wanting to learn and having fun with the field of science, due in large part to encouragement from her freshman year biology teacher. After deciding to follow her dream of becoming a physician and focus her studies on biology in college, Hanna recounted that it has not been an easy road. She explained there have been “a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of times, I question myself in this major.” Despite those occasional feelings of unease, Hanna is positive she picked the right field, and she enjoys the challenge her studies bring.

Hanna discovered Gerdau North America’s scholarship opportunity her senior year of high school. The scholarship, which is open to children of Gerdau employees, totals $10,000 per student, and is renewable for up to four years of undergraduate studies. Fifteen students throughout North America received the scholarship, and Hanna is the only recipient from her home state of Pennsylvania. However, the first time Hanna applied for Gerdau’s scholarship before coming to JMU, she was disappointed to learn she did not receive it. Despite this news, Hanna was not discouraged from trying again. In much the same way that Hanna has persevered through her studies in science, she decided to apply for the scholarship once more, in her sophomore year of college.

At JMU, Hanna joined a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, which she credits for shaping her views on leadership and service. Hanna drew from her new knowledge and experiences when she applied for the scholarship a second time, focusing her application on how she will use servant leadership in the future as a physician. She believes her newly-formed mindset and values helped her earn the scholarship the second time around.

After graduation, Hanna hopes to go straight into medical school to become a trauma surgeon. Until her junior year of high school, Hanna was sure she would one day be a Cardiothoracic surgeon, but upon meeting a female trauma surgeon when she attended the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for health sciences, Hanna gained a real appreciation for the field of trauma and critical emergency care. She noted that trauma surgery is “broad enough that I can serve as a physician outside of a hospital setting, in different countries that may not have equipment and infrastructure that [are] available in the United States… If I were to specialize in something too specific, it would kind of limit the population and the people that I could serve.”

Hanna is thankful she received the scholarship not only because it helps financially, but also because it reminds her of the importance of pursuing higher education. She included, “It’s so encouraging and empowering to know that there are companies out there who really value education… and to know that there are always people out in society who really want to help you, who want to support youβ€”you just have to kind of find [them]. It’s not always obvious, but they’re there.”

Way to go, Hanna! Dukes, what motivates you to excel in your studies?

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