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


Andrew Vo was lifted in Huntington Seaside, California by his mom, a refugee from Vietnam. 

“My mom and dad immigrated from Vietnam during the Vietnam War, so we failed to have significantly developing up. We were viewed as lessen class,” he suggests, humbly comparing his own childhood to that of his mother’s, who grew up living in a one-bedroom apartment with 9 brothers and sisters. “My mom virtually labored every single single working day of her existence to enable help the loved ones, her siblings, because she shed her dad and mom at a quite youthful age during the Vietnam War.”

Looking at her really hard operate formed Vo and his ambitions. 

“My mother sacrificed her entire life for her young children. Coming from Vietnam to the United States, her range just one goal is to make absolutely sure that her youngsters are thriving. So for me, seeing my mother battle just about every one day, I created it a intention to teach myself to make her very pleased,” he suggests. “I went by college or university for 4 years. Following that, I went to dental university for 4 years, and I actually wished to make her very pleased.”

Now, Vo lives with his fiancé, Marcus in Costa Mesa, California, operates as a pediatric dentist and earns approximately $200,000 for each year. He joined the military services to address $300,000 in dental college prices.

Having to pay for dental school

Vo graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2009 with a degree in economics. After location his sights on dental school, he was recognized into the College of Southern California’s dental medical procedures software — one particular of the ideal in the state. But the 6-determine price tag was prohibitive for him and his household. 

Most modern estimates for the full charge of attendance for four decades of USC’s dental software is $545,876.

“For me, which is a lot of income. I’ve in no way even viewed that significantly dollars in my life,” says Vo. “I had to determine out a way to pay out for university.”

That yr, he uncovered the United States Army’s Overall health Professions Scholarship Program which covers the tuition for clinical, dental, veterinary, psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychology and optometry packages. In trade, application individuals ought to provide in the army. Vo applied and was acknowledged, however he did not obtain adequate to cover all of his bills through the 4-year program.

Vo received a scholarship worthy of $300,000 and he borrowed an extra $176,616 to include his expenditures. So considerably, he has compensated off around $70,000 of his college student loans. He served in the Army from 2015 by means of 2019.

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

“I never ever want to damage anyone”

Immediately after graduating from dental college in 2015, Vo commenced his company in the army. He was 1st stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado and then at Fort Irwin in California and served as a captain and typical dentist in the United States Military Dental Corps.

“I bought incredibly homesick to begin with,” Vo remembers. That was “the most complicated portion since I had in no way been divided from my siblings and my mom, and remaining spoiled in the best temperature at any time in California, I just skipped dwelling.”

Furthermore, Vo had really serious private reservations about becoming a member of the armed forces. 

“I was fearful for the reason that I under no circumstances want to shoot anyone. I never want to harm any one. I listen to about the fear of remaining drafted and or relocated to a diverse state, and all these matters seem to be very terrifying. At the close of the working day, I requested myself, A, ‘How am I going to shell out for school?’ And B, can I serve our place in a sure way? And the respond to was of course and of course,” he says. “So I had to drive my fears apart and genuinely variety of dive in.”

As element of his assistance he attended standard coaching where he turned an officer and figured out how to use a gun and “how to struggle if a war broke out.”

Although Vo saw the scholarship as a signifies to an finish at very first, he says he has met lots of folks he admired alongside the way. 

“I joined the navy mainly because I wanted them to pay for my faculty,” he says “I actually did it just for the cash, for the scholarship to pay out for it. But at the conclude of the working day, following my 4 many years, I fell in appreciate with it.”

Immediately after Vo’s company finished in 2019, he joined the Army Reserve. For two months just about every 12 months, he backfills for other Army dentists.

“I’ve achieved incredible men and women — individuals that have sacrificed their lives,” he claims. “I get to satisfy men and women who are selfless and I believe that has likely been one particular of the greatest experiences — and a extremely humbling expertise for me.”

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