June 02, 2017

As a young child, Danielle Jeong was fascinated with the “cool tools” her family doctor used, but it took a World Vision TV commercial to convince the then 5-year-old Jeong that medicine was her destiny.

Jeong distinctly remembers how the images of impoverished African children affected her. “I was traumatized by the contrast between my comfortable life and the lives of African children; I could not understand why they had to suffer, while I had every necessity and comfort a child could ever need”.

Coupled with her mother’s advice to find a career that would allow her to give back to the world and serve the less fortunate, Jeong’s choice to study medicine fit the bill.

Jeong began making good on her childhood pledge as an SFU undergrad. She completed a co-op in Haiti during her third year, shadowing the clinic doctor and travelling with a mobile clinic to remote villages. The experience deeply affected Jeong and served as confirmation that she was following the right path.

Last fall Jeong received her MSc and will now receive a Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal given to students whose grade-point averages place them in the top five per cent of their class.

Jeong is now entering her second year of the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto. The program takes an average of eight years to complete and will allow her to eventually practise as a clinician and carry out research.

Jeong says, “To truly help a patient, I believe that it involves more than just offering clinical care. The physician must also simultaneously address the root of the problem, whether it be finding a better treatment approach, understanding the pathophysiology, tackling the social determinants of health, or fixing a systemic flaw in care delivery.”

Thoughtful reasoning from a student who claims she entered SFU seven years ago as a “a timid, confidence-deprived 17-year old who did not expect much from herself.” Jeong adds, “I expected to be "just a number" among many other amazing students, but the caring, dedicated staff and faculty members in the BPK department believed in me before I believed in myself. They taught me that I do have something to contribute to the society.”  

Jeong is grateful for the care and guidance she received at SFU and looks forward to a time when she can give back and mentor the next generation of students - just as her mother advised.