CCA grad earns scholarship to pursue career in medicine

Bryan Cheng

UCLA freshman and Canyon Crest Academy graduate Bryan Cheng received a $2,000 Health Care Communicators of Southern California scholarship to support his goal of becoming a doctor.

“I wanted to apply because it was pretty in line with what I want to do, which happens to be medicine,” said Cheng, who is majoring in molecular, cell and developmental biology. “I thought I’d be a good fit.”

Cheng, from Carmel Valley, was also selected because of an essay he wrote as part of the application process for the scholarship. He recounted the tragic experience of losing his twin brother Joshua to a malignant brain tumor.

“I was angry and confused—people always said we were identical twins,” Cheng wrote in his essay. “Then why did one of us have to fight for his life while the other remained perfectly healthy? There were no answers.”

Joshua started experiencing symptoms when the two brothers were 7. After surgery, it appeared his health had been restored. But the cancer returned months later.

“Always by his side as Joshua fought cancer, I experienced the impact of his medical treatment on him and the whole family,” Cheng wrote. “Even if the doctors’ efforts couldn’t save him, they did give us a few more precious months with Joshua. For that, I am forever grateful. Joshua’s illness left a deep impression, inspiring me to follow a career path in medicine.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cheng also served as a nonmedical volunteer at a two-day popup clinic in a church in a low-income section of Tijuana. He said there were about 300 to 400 people who showed up each day, many who were long overdue for a checkup.

Cheng has also traveled with his parents, who are both doctors, to rural Kenya for similar volunteer work. Since he’s not medically trained, his role was to help out around the hospital any way he could. He got to observe eye surgeries, one of the specialities he’s interested in.

But his specific career path in medicine is still to be determined.

“I do know that when I’ve reached that, I want to be able to go and do medical work abroad and bring health care to populations where it’s not as accessible, whether that’s through direct clinical work, or through mentoring and assisting and leading people who are already there in providing medical care for their own communities,” Cheng said.

He concluded his essay, “I’ll be a light in this world. I’ll make Joshua proud.”