The Marc Dexter Memorial Scholarship is a prestigious award that is gifted by SJA Peel-Dufferin to deserving volunteers who have demonstrated strength of character and gone above and beyond while pursuing studies at a post-secondary institution. Jason Repovs of our board of directors recently sat down with scholarship recipient Long Doan to learn about how St John Ambulance has impacted him personally.
J: It’s very nice to meet you, Long. So tell me, where are you currently attending school, and what are you studying?
L: I’m currently finishing up my last semester of Nursing at Humber College, which offers a degree in partnership with the University of New Brunswick. Prior to that, I completed a double major in Biology and Psychology at the University of Toronto, with the hope of attending med school.
J: Wow, that’s quite impressive! And is that what led you to want to get involved with St John Ambulance?
L: Originally, yes. Being a reputable organization with a long-standing history in Canada and direct relevance to the field, I signed up in order to gain transferable skills and bolster my application.
J: Makes sense. And how long have you been volunteering with St. John Ambulance now?
L: I’ve been volunteering on and off since 2016. I actually began working with St John Ambulance as a paid first aid instructor back in 2014 though. Having some experience in the field, my skills were in demand with the organization, and it was a natural fit for me.
After a couple years instructing, I met members of the Medical First Responder Division while volunteering at an event at Mississauga City Hall. They persuaded me to stay involved with St. John Ambulance in a volunteer capacity.
I started as a volunteer first aid instructor, then moved over to the Outreach and Education Committee. Now I use my experience to show others the value of volunteering with St. John Ambulance.
J: Sounds like you know your way around the organization! So how would you say that your volunteer experience has impacted you personally?
L: Volunteering with St. John Ambulance literally gave me my self-esteem back. After trying, unsuccessfully, to get a Canadian MD licensure after graduating from an off-shore medical school, I was feeling pretty down on myself. Working as both a paid instructor and a volunteer helped me rebuild my self-confidence, and reminded me why I was so passionate about the field of medicine and helping people in the first place.
J: That’s a powerful story, and thank you for sharing. Now relating your volunteer experience to your career aspirations, would you say you’ve picked up some transferable skills along the way?
L: Definitely. I’m much more comfortable talking to strangers than I was before. To be honest, even talking with you right now is something I would never have had the confidence to do before.
Beyond that though, I’ve met so many amazing individuals through volunteering; people who have become friends, role models and mentors. They’ve taught me to think more positively about myself, my efforts and always to move forward, which keeps me focused and motivated.
J: That’s great to hear. So before we leave off, do you have any advice to offer other youth who might be thinking about volunteering their time?
L: Just take the leap, even if you think it’s scary. I was nervous too, but I gained so much by getting involved. There are so many ways to volunteer, and there’s something for everybody, regardless of your schedule. Just take the plunge, because it’s so rewarding. You’ll come out a better version of yourself on the other side.
J: Great, thanks so much for your time Long, and all the best as you advance your career in nursing!