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Volunteering with veterans draws scholar to medicine

Davis Family Foundation Scholar focuses on service and ophthalmology
Posted May 11, 2017

Derick Ansah is a first-year medical student interested in ophthalmology.


Luck brought Derick Ansah's family to America, but scholarship funds drew him to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Originally from Ghana, Ansah grew up in Maryland after his parents won the Green Card Lottery when he was a one-year-old. This program by the United States government, also known as the Diversity Visa Lottery, grants admittance to 50,000 people from under-represented countries every year.

Then as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, Ansah volunteered at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and this experience solidified his decision to become a doctor.

"I got a chance to interact with the wounded warriors, veterans, people who had gone through traumatic brain injuries, amputations," says Ansah. "So, seeing the work that the doctors were doing really moved me and made me want to be in the position they were in."

"And getting the scholarship to come to Johns Hopkins was a huge thing for me because it gave me the chance to select somewhere where I could achieve almost anything that I could dream of achieving," adds Ansah, who is the Davis Family Foundation Scholar.

Ansah has now focused in on a specialty, again resulting from his community service. After volunteering with Student Sight Savers, a School of Medicine student-run group which offers free vision screenings to underserved populations in Baltimore, he has decided to focus on ophthalmology as a career.

"The eye is such a small organ, but there's so much that you can do in terms of correcting it," Ansah says. "The scholarship gave me the freedom to be able to decide what I wanted to do ultimately, in terms of specialty, and a lot of flexibility when it comes to research."

In the future, Ansah plans to work abroad, perhaps with Doctors Without Borders.

"It would be a great chance for me to pay forward a lot of the goodwill that's been expressed to me in terms of scholarships and opportunities to advance myself in life," he says.

To learn how you can make a gift to support School of Medicine scholarships, please contact Chad Newill, Sr. Director of Development via email or call 410-361-6561.