When Ledi and Teddy Sumibcay immigrated to Hawaiʻi from the Philippines in 1996, they brought with them big dreams. Teddy hoped to continue his work as a civil engineer in Hawaiʻi while Ledi, coming off working overseas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, wanted to continue her work as a registered nurse.
“Like all immigrants, we all want to fulfill that proverbial American dream,” Ledi said. “My ultimate dream was to be able to attain success in my nursing practice for the betterment of our life.”
The pursuit of their version of the American dream allowed Ledi to carry over her nursing talent to Hawaiʻi. It also brought Teddy to work in the state’s Department of Transportation, a career he’s held for 25 years.
That dream also extended to the rest of their family, like their son, Tyrone John, a first year medical student at the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM.)
“[Our dream] for Tyrone is to be able to acquire a good education and be successful in whatever course he will choose,” the proud parents said.
Firm believers in education, the Sumibcays enrolled Tyrone John in Punahou School. After graduating in 2016, he went on to Johns Hopkins University (JHU). There, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2020. He decided to stay in Baltimore to continue working as a clinical specialist until earlier this year, when acceptance into JABSOM brought him back home.
He received his white coat last July, with his parents and other family present for the momentous occasion. Since then, Tyrone John has been prioritizing his medical education by putting in more hours into his studies and being open to all fields in medicine. Like many first year medical students, Tyrone John is excited to explore the different specialties in medicine.
“I think I am most interested in pediatrics, emergency medicine, and psychiatry,” Tyrone John said. “But I am also very eager to explore more interests and specialties in the coming few years.”
For his parents, watching him grow academically has been rewarding and “a great joy for us.” The work ethic and drive he learned from them has helped him through the beginning of his first year. While they noticed that he’s remained a self-sufficient and independent learner, they’ve also noticed changes in him since starting at JABSOM.
“He is more responsible. He manages his time more effectively and puts more hours in his studies,” Ledi said. “[What] we admire the most is that he could live independently.”
Ledi and Teddy are also proud of the fact that Tyrone John is a part of what is unofficially known as the “JABSOM Difference.” It is when a Hawai’i-born student chooses to stay in Hawaiʻi to study and hopefully practice medicine. They are grateful that Tyrone John was given the opportunity to study at JABSOM and that he has the opportunity to give back to Hawai’i. Ledi and Teddy see Tyrone John’s part in the "JABSOM Difference” as “an honor and privilege,” a way to give back to the place they have called home for 27 years now.
“We are very grateful that he is given the opportunity to come back home and pursue his medical education here at JABSOM,” they said. “Given his background, we feel that Tyrone realizes this [is his] kuleana.”
The American dream the Sumibcays had for their son from the moment they immigrated to Hawaiʻi in the ‘90s is on the verge of being fulfilled.
“In a way, his achievements in school are a testament that we have fulfilled that dream,” Ledi said. “Now that he is on the path to fulfilling his dream of being a doctor, we hope that his education and training at JABSOM will mold him into a caring and compassionate physician.”
Teddy added: “We hope he continues to pursue his passion and continues to be inspired by the people he will meet and the experiences he will gain in medical school.”