Tough times for a Kauaʻi family showed Elisabeth Young just how thoughtful people can be on the Garden Island. When her Līhue family’s stove broke, what happened afterward inspired her not only to enter medical school, but to become a leader in bettering public health.
“We weren’t able to buy another stove, so we spent a few weeks cooking outside,” Young recalled. “Then one morning someone left us a brand-new stove as an anonymous gift. That is Kauaʻi to me—people who really care about each other, and I hope to give back as generously as my community raised me.”
Now a senior at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), Young has already earned awards for her scholarship and leadership efforts from two major medical organizations.
Young won the 2017–2018 Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). The award recognizes medical students who are leaders in public health issues in their communities, and who increase awareness of the USPHS mission to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation.
Young was also selected and funded by the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation to attend the first AMA Foundation Leadership Development Institute in Chicago in September.
A passion for public health
Public health, including incorporating social change to improve health, has been Young’s passion since she began observing patients in medical settings through her time at JABSOM.
“Once these patients would leave the clinic or hospital, they would return to the same conditions that made them sick. That was playing in my mind all the time,” said Young. “As doctors, we have the privilege of being let into patient’s lives. For me, this means recognizing the support people need to stay healthy. For example, right now one in six children in Hawaiʻi struggles with hunger. This is something we can and should fix.”
Dedicated to promoting public health, Young took a one-year leave of absence from JABSOM to attend Harvard University, where she earned a master’s degree in public health from the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
For more on Young, go to the JABSOM website.
—By Tina Shelton