Katherine Ly

Physiology & Neuroscience

Katherine discovered a passion for science in middle school, and a knack for competing in science competitions at the state level. At UC San Diego, Katherine is an honors student who continues to edge out her classmates for highly competitive opportunities to work in research laboratories on campus and the Salk Institute.

She is a member of the American Medical Student Association, is captain of her intramural soccer team and has practiced martial arts since childhood. Often the only girl in her dojo, “I realized early on that I shouldn’t let the idea of being different intimidate me or stop me from pursuing my dreams.”

Because she’s interested in the medical field, Katherine joined Global Medical Brigades UC San Diego. “I traveled to Nicaragua which is considered one of the poorest countries in Central America, and it was highly evident as we drove through dirt roads and parts of the jungle. We set up a health clinic where I took patient history, vitals and symptoms. I also shadowed doctors as they diagnosed patients and provided treatment. In the public health section, I helped educate the community’s children about proper hygiene and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. I also mixed concrete and laid out bricks in the construction of a church, home and water well along with other volunteers in the organization.”

Katherine feels a connection to such communities because her family came to the U.S. as political refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. “Southeast Asian countries are still categorized as third world, including Vietnam. My family’s past has forced me to become more aware of those who live in poverty, as we’ve had to cultivate a new life from scratch.”

The focus now is on the future. “With further studies in the biomedical sciences, I aim to be a part of a team of doctors working towards curing illnesses and providing support to propel people back to living their normal lives.”

Katherine adds, “This scholarship means more to me than just money. It validates that I've been putting my time and effort into things that matter not only to me, but to others as well, and I express my appreciation towards those who support me in my endeavors.

“With this most generous donation, I will be able to dedicate more of myself and my time into serving the community and gaining experience in the medical field through volunteering efforts without having to worry as much about how I can pay for my next meal or make the rent. It is an honor to be recognized for pursuing my passions.”

Katherine Ly