Andrew Vo joined the Army for a $300,000 dental school scholarship

Andrew Vo was lifted in Huntington Beach, California by his mother, a refugee from Vietnam. 

“My mothers and fathers immigrated from Vietnam throughout the Vietnam War, so we failed to have a lot expanding up. We ended up deemed reduce course,” he claims, humbly evaluating his personal childhood to that of his mother’s, who grew up residing in a a person-bed room apartment with 9 brothers and sisters. “My mother pretty much worked every single single working day of her lifetime to help help the family members, her siblings, due to the fact she shed her mom and dad at a quite youthful age all through the Vietnam War.”

Looking at her hard perform formed Vo and his ambitions. 

“My mom sacrificed her total life for her kids. Coming from Vietnam to the United States, her range one target is to make guaranteed that her youngsters are effective. So for me, viewing my mom wrestle each and every single working day, I made it a intention to educate myself to make her proud,” he suggests. “I went through university for 4 many years. After that, I went to dental faculty for 4 a long time, and I seriously wished to make her proud.”

Right now, Vo lives with his fiancé, Marcus in Costa Mesa, California, functions as a pediatric dentist and earns roughly $200,000 for every year. He joined the army to deal with $300,000 in dental college expenditures.

Having to pay for dental faculty

Vo graduated from the College of California, Irvine in 2009 with a diploma in economics. Soon after setting his sights on dental school, he was recognized into the College of Southern California’s dental surgery system — one of the finest in the place. But the 6-determine price tag tag was prohibitive for him and his household. 

Most new estimates for the complete value of attendance for 4 a long time of USC’s dental program is $545,876.

“For me, that is a large amount of revenue. I have in no way even witnessed that significantly cash in my life,” states Vo. “I had to determine out a way to pay back for university.”

That yr, he found the United States Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Application which addresses the tuition for clinical, dental, veterinary, psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychology and optometry plans. In trade, program individuals have to provide in the military. Vo used and was recognized, however he did not get adequate to deal with all of his charges throughout the 4-year program.

Vo acquired a scholarship worth $300,000 and he borrowed an further $176,616 to go over his prices. So significantly, he has paid off roughly $70,000 of his student loans. He served in the Military from 2015 via 2019.

Andrew Vo at the Fort Irwin Army Base in Barstow, California

“I never ever want to harm everyone”

Just after graduating from dental faculty in 2015, Vo commenced his provider in the military. He was initial stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado and then at Fort Irwin in California and served as a captain and basic dentist in the United States Army Dental Corps.

“I obtained incredibly homesick originally,” Vo remembers. That was “the most difficult aspect for the reason that I experienced by no means been separated from my siblings and my mother, and becoming spoiled in the very best weather ever in California, I just skipped home.”

In addition, Vo had really serious particular reservations about signing up for the armed forces. 

“I was scared due to the fact I by no means want to shoot everyone. I never ever want to hurt any one. I hear about the anxiety of staying drafted and or relocated to a different region, and all these matters feel incredibly terrifying. At the end of the day, I asked myself, A, ‘How am I likely to pay back for faculty?’ And B, can I provide our country in a certain way? And the remedy was indeed and of course,” he claims. “So I had to drive my fears apart and seriously form of dive in.”

As element of his assistance he attended primary training where he grew to become an officer and discovered how to use a gun and “how to combat if a war broke out.”

Whilst Vo observed the scholarship as a usually means to an close at initially, he claims he has met numerous individuals he admired together the way. 

“I joined the army mainly because I required them to fork out for my university,” he claims “I genuinely did it just for the income, for the scholarship to pay for it. But at the finish of the working day, after my four many years, I fell in adore with it.”

Right after Vo’s assistance ended in 2019, he joined the Military Reserve. For two weeks every single 12 months, he backfills for other Army dentists.

“I’ve met unbelievable people today — men and women that have sacrificed their lives,” he suggests. “I get to fulfill people who are selfless and I consider that has probably been just one of the ideal activities — and a extremely humbling experience for me.”

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