Thanh Dinh ’17 had a personal reason for delaying his application to medical school so he could volunteer with City Year, and he offers it up readily: When he needed support, people gave it to him.
Dinh came to New Hampshire from Vietnam in 2011. He spoke English and was a good student, but still, there were many days when he remained after school for extra help so he could stay on top of his studies.
“So many people had confidence in me,” says Dinh, a McNair Scholar. “One of the most memorable things was that my chemistry teacher recommended I take AP chemistry, which I thought at the time was beyond my ability. Those who believed in me even when I didn’t sometimes really helped me to keep trying.”
And it led him to City Year Manchester. Starting in August, Dinh will spend the next 11 months working with students in one of the city’s elementary schools, providing the same kind of support and encouragement he says he received in high school and at UNH.
"Those who believed in me even when I didn’t sometimes really helped me to keep trying.”
When Dinh got to UNH, he signed on with the Connect Program, which helps first-generation and multicultural students transition from high school to college. He joined UNH’s Buddies Without Borders and was paired with a student from Massachusetts who offered friendship and companionship. They even took a Zumba class together.
In 2016, Dinh received an undergraduate summer research fellowship at Texas A&M University through the Temple Health & Bioscience District Scholars Research Program, which gives students with an interest in biomedical research the chance to work in a biomedical laboratory and perform a research project. That same year, he also participated in UNH’s Undergraduate Research Conference. And this past May, he won the Hood Achievement Prize, given to a “senior man who shows the greatest promise through character, scholarship and usefulness to humanity.”
Dinh first thought about becoming a doctor after he volunteered at a summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy in 2014. “Seeing the kids struggling with mundane daily tasks spiked an interest in medicine for me,” the chemical engineering major says.
After that, he contacted Dr. Charles Blitzer, a local orthopedic surgeon on staff at Wentworth Douglass Hospital in Dover, New Hampshire, and Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New Hampshire, and asked if he could shadow him. Dinh then spent a year volunteering in the emergency room at Frisbie Memorial. He plans to apply to medical school this summer with the goal of starting in fall 2018. Until then he wants to focus on paying back some of what he says got him where he is.
“I had people encouraging me all along the way,” Dinh says. “I know the difference support can make.”