Rising Star: Daniels Scholar Thong Phung aspires to support community through ethical medicine
By Brenda Velasquez
About Thong Phung
School: William C. Hinkley High
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Involvements: Youth Leadership Academy (YLA), an Asian Pacific Development Center youth group program funded by the Asian Pacific American Bar Association; Aurora LIGHTS program; IB Program; National Honor Society; Environmental Club; Hinkley jazz and marching bands
Quote you live by: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”- Gandhi
Three words that describe you: Thinker; Hard-worker; Inspiring
Hobbies/interests: Piano; Swimming
Dream job: Internal medicine doctor
At the age of 18, Thong Phung has already gained hands-on learning experience for a career as an ethically-driven internal medicine doctor. Practicing basic surgery techniques in a Biomedical Innovations course within the Aurora LIGHTS program (leading high school students into health careers) and a participant in the UCD Pre-Collegiate Health Careers program, Phung has completed coursework in pharmacy, nursing and health disparities, earning the 2012 Outstanding Student Award.
“I’ve seen doctors mistreat patients so that they keep coming back and pay more money,” relates Phung, whose ethical esteem was rewarded with the Better Business Bureau Student of Integrity Scholarship presented by Mayor Hancock. Phung dreams of an upright career fueled by compassion-a dream inspired by internal medicine doctor John Wu, a Denver practitioner who received a 2010 Compassionate Doctor Recognition award.
As a member of the Asian Pacific Development Center Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) and a previous LIGHTS President, Phung has developed leadership skills along with ethical values, delivering community service in homeless shelters. With the help of his tutor, Mrs. Jean, Phung transcended the language barrier and received the Daniels Scholarship with which he plans to enroll in CU-Denver then transfer to Johns Hopkins for a bachelor’s degree in Biology and finally open a clinic extending services to the homeless.
When not studying, Phung exercises his musical talent as a pianist-a pursuit he began at the age of three in Vietnam, showing promise as the youngest first-place winner in a competition. After arriving in the U.S. with his parents in 2008, only child Phung took a hiatus until day care owner and pianist Nobuko Flynn encouraged him to revisit his art. Phung joined Hinkley High’s jazz and marching bands, using music as a conduit for building emotional connections with his audience.
Born of a businessman and housewife, Phung owes his success to the support of his parents, his grandfather-a retired lieutenant colonel for the South Vietnamese army-and grandmother: “Without them, I would not be able to become as successful of a person today.”
Phung will continue cultivating experience this summer, shadowing Dr. Wu; afterwards, he will apply for a teaching assistant position at University of Colorado Hospital.