Charlene Singh thinks doctors are today’s superheroes. And she is doing everything in her power to become one.
Starting at age 16, she began volunteering at Florida Hospital South, spending as much as eight hours a day at the hospital, where she did everything from changing sheets on bed to handling secretarial duties for nurses.
But Charlene knows that going to medical school is expensive – and many doctors leave medical school with more than $180,000 in student loan debt. That’s why she earned an associate in arts degree at Valencia College – where the tuition is about $3,000 per year — and graduated from Valencia’s Seneff Honors College.
However, Charlene, a graduate of Timber Creek High School, got a little help with her college costs. In 2019, she was named one of 61 community college students nationwide to receive a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
The scholarship provides up to $40,000 for two or three years for a student to complete his or her bachelor’s degree, plus college planning support, personal advising and the chance to connect with a network of other high-achieving Cooke scholars.
Now 21, she is graduating from the University of Central Florida’s Burnett Honors College in May 2021 and plans to head to medical school.
“I will be graduating with a major in Health Sciences with a Pre-Clinical Track,” says Charlene. “I am still pursuing medicine and I am having the time of my life because I absolutely love my field. I applied for medical school during the heart of the pandemic last year.”
And she got even more exciting news recently. She has been named a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship to help pay for medical school.
Looking back, she’s happy she made the decision to attend Valencia first. “I ended up never experiencing transfer shock, which I can say I am very blessed. My time at Valencia College also played a part in this smooth transfer to UCF. The semester right before transferring to UCF, I created checklists, created my academic timeline, reached out to advisors, figured out funding (thankful for the JKCF scholarship), sought out various clubs that I could join, and became a part of the Burnett Honors College,” she says.
“All of these things have helped me stay rooted and prepared to receive a bachelor’s degree while staying anchored and involved with UCF. It is a huge school that is drastically more populated than Valencia College but meeting with advisors, and being a part of a variety of clubs that consisted of smaller groups and large groups helped me stay connected with peers. I also looked for leadership roles and became treasurer of Humanity First, Public Health Awareness, and an Ambassador of 4EVERKNIGHTS. During the Pandemic, UCF created its inaugural cohort of President’s Student Advisory Council of 20 students, which is where we sit down with the president of UCF, Dr. Cartwright, and discuss issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion and we work to create resolution.”
Now, the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate scholarship, will help her pursue her dream – of becoming an internal medicine specialist in the U.S. Air Force.
“Doctors save lives every day and I find that incredibly exciting and interesting. I’ve known for a long time that this is what I want to do.”
At Valencia College, we work every day to create a level playing field for college students of all backgrounds, fashioning a college where every student can succeed. And our students continue to amaze and surprise us. Read more of their stories.