Winner of the $4,000 Fathom Scholarship Eudiah Ochieng Shares her Journey and Future Plans

Georgia Southern University Undergraduate student Eudiah Ochieng is now one step closer to becoming a physician assistant, as well as a local and global leader, as the 2016 recipient of the Fathom Fund for Purpose-Driven Students.

Started in 2014 by Fathom Education, the $4,000 Fathom scholarship is awarded to one undergraduate student who demonstrates impactful work in his or her community and a passion for making a difference.

Among this Georgia Southern University student’s long list of community work, her involvement spans from the Atlanta Children’s Shelter, to Circle K International, to Project Open Hand and more. Not only does Ochieng plan to remain involved in several of these organizations, she hopes to become a Kiwanian, as well as a physician assistant specializing in pediatrics.

Ochieng believes in the “right combination of work and play,” siting this, and her mother’s positive influence, as the keys to her success. Fathom was able to speak with Ochieng about how her mother has been a positive role model, what she plans to accomplish as a physician’s assistant, and how she hopes to lead her community and beyond.

Fathom: When did you realize that becoming a pediatric physician assistant was the career path for you? Did you ever consider a different career?

Ochieng: Ever since I was little I [dreamed of] the day that I would become a pediatrician. I liked children and I liked health and medicine. It was not until early freshman year in college that I decided that physician assistant is more of what I wanted to do. I sat for a week in my dorm searching for health careers besides the highly-talked-about doctors. I stumbled [on] physician assistant and did my research. I learned that this career path suits me more in [the] fact that I [can] have variety within the field and a little less school, though [it’s] fast paced. After talking to different people, I also learned I could specialize, so the happy medium of pediatric physician assistant appealed to me. As I shadow PAs now, I know I am making a great decision.

What specifically do you hope to accomplish as a physician assistant?

I specifically wish to help be a part of the education component for the community as a physician assistant. A career as a physician assistant would allow me to help my community by educating patients on healthy living, in [the] aspects of how to care for your body and how to prevent illnesses and diseases. Yes, it is important to examine and treat, but it is also important to educate.

Eudiah_FUMC Soup KitchenIn your application, you said, “My mind functions to identify a problem and find a solution, one that is not temporary but impacting.” What is your favorite example of someone who has made an impact?

My favorite example of someone who has made an impact is Nelson Mandela and his efforts. Nelson Mandela helped bring peace and fought for human rights. Mandela was a leader who made positive changes that had an impact [on] his direct community, as well as those across the globe. Nelson Mandela is inspiring to me as a leader who faced many challenges and overcame those. He leaves behind a great impact and legacy for us all to see.

Your mother has been a positive figure in your life, specifically for three lessons: to always have goals, to have a caring heart, and to realize that learning can take place outside of a classroom.

Are there experiences your mother has shared with you about her own life that shaped her world view, which has been so influential to you?

My mother was born in Kenya to a family of ten siblings. Growing up for her was different, considering living in a third world country. One would have to walk a distance for water and walk a greater distance for school. Education is something that she has taught me to cherish. She was fortunate enough to experience learning and to not take it for granted because other kids in the village did not have that. As for me now, I love to learn in any situation and not take the things I do or have for granted.

How did your mother instill these values in you? Do any specific memories come to mind?

My mother … reminds me to think positive[ly], to use my talents for good, to not take things for granted, and to continue to look forward even when you fail. My most specific memory was in high school my senior year when I ran for school president. I was class president for three years and decided to team up with a friend to run for school co-president. We lost, and I remember being devastated. My mother talked to me, offering comfort and reassurance that things happen for a reason and that I need to continue looking forward. That senior year, great opportunities came my way by reintroducing SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, which allowed me to use my talents and passions to serve the community.

You became involved in both the Atlanta Children’s Shelter and Project Open Hand in high school. How did you find these opportunities?

I was introduced to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter when I worked as a cashier at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Every year, Kentucky Fried Chicken has a giving season to help support the mission to provide loving, quality child development and support services for homeless families striving to become self-sufficient.

I was introduced to Project Open Hand Atlanta through my involvement with Key Club in high school. This organization helps make and provide meals to individuals with disabilities and nutrition sensitive chronic diseases. Both are non-profit with missions that match my values and passions.

Your life’s goal is to live by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” How do you think your future goals accomplish this?

Whenever I engage in an activity, I participate in ones that bring me joy. I become elated to know that myself as one person can help a community, big or small. …An organization I have been a part of for three years now, Circle K International, has a motto of “Live to Serve, Love to Serve.”  I like to help others and use my talents to do so. It is great to know as one person I can achieve so much and it is even better to know teamwork and collaborations can achieve this as well.

For more information, visit our page for the Fathom scholarship.

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