Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – Being that Person for Somebody Else


Being that Person for Somebody Else

Jacob Uwimana


Being that Person for Somebody Else


“It had been three days since my brother and I escaped from a refugee camp and we’re making our way west at the dead of night. Then, right on cue, another gunshot pierced the tree next to me – barely missing my skull. This was an everyday occurrence at this point. Every night since the beginning of this genocide had been a living hell, but I had to keep going. Suffering from malaria and cholera now looked to be a blessing compared to this Congolese jungle we were going to be living in for the next year.”

Those were the words uttered to me the day my father sat my seven year old self down at the edge of my parents’ bed and explained his experience during the Rwandan Genocide, fueling an everlasting period of personal growth where I always try to better those around me. On that day I promised myself I would never let my father down. He survived things you and I could never dream of yet still has been able to provide for his family and allow us to be comfortable – something he could have only wished for at my age. I now enjoy the fruits of modern civilization and live with a sense of ignorance, so I tell my friends all the time that I believe I am one of the most privileged people I know as I have the freedom that my father was stripped of as a teenager.

“There’s a lot you can do with your life, Jacob. Your mother and I have high hopes for your future, but the path you choose to take is entirely up to you. All we wish is that you remain humble and give your all to everyone.”

The second I step foot on campus is the second I begin fulfill my parents’ wishes and make them proud. In my eyes, there’s no better way to remain humble and give my all to everyone than to study in the field of medicine. In medicine, I would be able to promote positivity in the world all the while fulfilling my goal of bettering those around me and not letting my father down. Every so often I think of my father’s story, and I think of the person my father needed most when he was at his sickest – a doctor. Since there is not any going back in time to be that person for him, who is to say I cannot be that person for somebody else?

This realization lead to a sophomore year highlighted by my study of the effectiveness of mesenchymal stem cells in treating knee injuries in my research class under the guidance of Dr. David Harris of the University of Arizona. In my final meta-analysis, I concluded that there is a real possibility for the use of mesenchymal stem cells in not only treating knee injuries, but in the world of medicine. My research gave me insight on the limitless possibilities in medicine and solidified the idea that medicine is for me.

Learning of my father’s story not only solidified seven year old me’s belief that my father is my hero, but is the biggest contributing factor in my desire to study medicine. So when it is all said and done, I hope my father no longer says “Your mother and I have high hopes for you Jacob.” Instead, it is “Your mother and I had high hopes for you, and you knocked them out of the park.”