Since receiving the Athlete Scholar of the Year Award in 1998, I have continued my quest to become a medical doctor. Although this goal was first borne through the many trips I took with my mom to the local hospital where she worked as a physical therapist, it was further reinforced in my many experiences with Dr. Joseph Fitzsimmons who treated me many times as a patient. I remember Doc being at every Judo tournament I ever went to, always having his medicine bag and a smile. He just made all of us feel better when we got hurt; and as I look back on this, I knew I ultimately wanted to be like him in the future.
After graduating from Salinas High School in 2000, I attended UCLA and finished with a degree in Physiological Science in 2004. Wanting to stay in California, I attended and finished medical school at the University of California, Irvine. Knowing the importance of business in medical practice, I also obtained a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at UC Irvine.
Currently, I am a second year resident in Internal Medicine at Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, CA. After finishing my residency, I hope to pursue a fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology.
I think that having the Athlete Scholar Awards are important because they encourage athletes to become better students, hence the name Athlete-Scholar. For me, this award helped me on the path that I am currently walking today. Although my current involvement in Judo has been limited by my obligations as medical student and now resident, I plan to return as a physician volunteer like Doc was. Because of my dad, Judo was a large part of my life as kid and young adult. I learned many lessons that could only be taught on the mat.