When JABSOM 2027 student Mitch Cadiz found out he received The Clarence T.C. Ching Scholarship, he was with his classmates at the 50th anniversary of the ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program, which he graduated from in June 2023.
“I was really happy when I found out,” Cadiz said.
The scholarship is The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation's first philanthropy effort to JABSOM and is given to an ʻImi Hoʻōla graduate who has successfully matriculated to JABSOM. What the scholarship entails for the student is a full-ride scholarship, as well as the student’s commitment to stay in Hawaiʻi to practice. Queen’s Health Systems has provided stipends for ʻImi Hoʻōla students and graduates for years, and The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation gives increased stipend support.
The scholarship is a full-circle moment for Cadiz, a first-generation student growing up in Kalihi who often had to act as the translator for his grandmother during her doctor’s visits. He noticed the lack of Filipino physicians in his community and the disparities in the Filipino community, which propelled him to pursue medicine.
“In Kalihi, especially, there are a lot of doctors that are going to be retiring,” he noted. “So if we don’t fill in that gap, who's going to take care of the immigrant communities here?”
Cadiz attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa nursing school, but at the peak of his final year of nursing school, he realized he wanted to become a doctor.
“I got to work with the doctors, and I realized I wanted to do what they do,” Cadiz said.
Although the realization to become a doctor came later, Cadiz completed his nursing degree, worked full time as a cardiac telemetry nurse at Kaiser Hospital while taking pre-med classes at UH Mānoa. However, the COVID-19 pandemic halted his plans of entering medical school, among other challenges that he faced during that time.
“ʻImi Hoʻōla definitely prepared me for the rigor of medical school, molding me into the most well-rounded future physician that each patient deserves,” he said.
Cadiz found out about The Clarence T.C. Ching scholarship in his first semester of medical school. Realizing it aligned with his desire to remain in Hawaiʻi to practice medicine, he applied.
“I had all the chances to move to the mainland for better job opportunities as a nurse but I was worried that I might not return so I decided to stay in Hawaii to fulfill my promise of giving back to my community,” he said. “It ties back to my main purpose of my story, as a kid of immigrants from the Philippines.”
Cadiz also attributes his purpose of becoming a doctor to his faith in God.
“That’s the number one thing that kind of made me go through ʻImi [and through medical school] despite all the challenges,” he said. “Without God or my church family, I wouldn’t have made it without their words of encouragement. I’m sure God has a greater purpose for me to be a physician and to inspire someone one day to be a physician so they can continue on that legacy.”
He encourages others who are pursuing medicine to continue, despite the challenges they may face.
“I recently went back to my alma mater, Farrington High School, to give a talk to the students,” Cadiz said. “I remember when I was in their chair, listening to talks like this too. I thought, ‘That’s good, but I don’t think I can do that.’ But when I went back there, I told them, ‘Don’t limit yourself.’ Being a doctor, applying to JABSOM, is doable. I know they can do it too.”