Essay by Elizabeth Trinh

Elizabeth Trinh of Westminster, CA, was awarded the $2,000 Orange County Mensa Scholarship.

A Dedication to Jean Paul

Prior to entering high school, the unfairness of the world provided me a harsh lesson that would change my future. An impoverished Haitian boy by the name of Jean Paul worked as a Creole translator for the medical missions team I was with in Haiti. We bonded as he taught me everyday phrases and medical terms in Creole, and I helped him with his unpolished English. We became close friends, and as I left for home we shared our intent to reunite the next year. But that never happened. A few weeks after I returned home, Jean Paul died. He unintentionally drank unclean water during one of his meals, contracted cholera, and died. I was devastated. I thought, “how is it fair that someone died from something so easily remedied? Why wasn’t Jean Paul able to have the same opportunities as others, when he had the same potential?”

I realized the world is filled with inequalities. Where a person is born can determine the quality and span of their life. The poor may never have access to medicine, shelter, or clean water. This realization motivated me to rectify the unfairness. Since then, I have traveled with medical teams as a Doctor’s Assistant with the “TongueOut” Medical Missions Organization ( I’ve had the opportunity to go to third-world countries to provide medical aid for impoverished communities with no access to healthcare. My responsibilities include taking the vital signs, medical history, and health concerns of patients who need to receive care, as well as translate French and Spanish for the doctors on our teams. Summers and school breaks spent doing medical work in places such as Vietnam, Haiti, Dominican Republic, the West Bank, and Peru, intensified my desire to bring hope to those who were born under disadvantaged circumstances.

This recognition not only motivated me to pursue medical missions work, but also to make a positive difference in my own community. I dedicate my time distributing food to homeless people in my city, and spend time at a local foster home for children of abuse. In 2017, I traveled to Houston, Texas with our medical team to provide relief for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. I spent days delivering first aid kits, cleaning and repairing homes, and providing basic necessities to neighborhoods affected by this disaster. Last year, I had the opportunity to bring a group of doctors and nurses to the Dominican Republic to provide medical aid for impoverished immigrants living in Barahona City.

Rather than diminishing, my desire to serve the most vulnerable in our society has only intensified. My goal in college is to major in Global Health and conduct research in third-world countries to better understand their healthcare problems. I can’t wait to collaborate with professors and students who share my passion, and gain the tools necessary to implement healthcare solutions for communities in need. My ultimate goal is to achieve a Masters of Science in Global Medicine, and become a physician for those living in underprivileged communities.

By remembering my friend Jean Paul, I remain motivated everyday to help others achieve the opportunities that he never got to. I hope to provide others with the chance at a higher quality of life, better health, and a promising future.


Back to Past Scholarship Winners.


These pages and all content Copyright 2023  by Orange County Mensa, all rights reserved.

Mensa does not hold any opinions, or have, or express, any political or religious views.

About the website