Always ready to lend a hand
For twin sisters Michelle and Vicky Le, when it comes to Texas A&M University’s Core Values, there is one that resonates with them more than any other: Selfless Service. The Texas A&M freshmen never hesitate when the chance to volunteer their time for a greater cause presents itself, and they are quick to step up.
The sisters, who are first generation students and Regents Scholars, regularly volunteered at the flu vaccination clinics held in the fall and continue to selflessly give their time at the COVID-19 vaccination clinics held for students, faculty and staff this spring.
“Out of all of the Texas A&M core values, I think Selfless Service is the one that I most easily identify with,” said Michelle, who is a freshman at the School of Public Health. “I love volunteering and it is what I choose to do in my free time.
“I think it is a better way to spend my free time instead of on social media, TikTok or YouTube. It is a great way to serve your community and not only does it better your community, but you get to better yourself.”
Since October the sisters have worked at more than 10 clinics on campus and throughout the community, assisting with setting up and breaking down the vaccination sites, registration, scribing and other logistics.
“They are both amazingly quick learners and their presence at each clinic has helped us improve clinic flow,” said Christine L. Kaunas, EdD, MPH, executive director for Interprofessional Education & Research at Texas A&M Health. “They truly have been instrumental to the success of these clinics.”
According to Vicky, who is majoring in biomedical sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biosciences, when Michelle received an email asking for volunteers for the flu clinics, the sisters immediately signed up, and not just for one shift.
“We saw it as a really great opportunity and we said we were going to sign up for every shift,” Vicky said. “We didn’t realize that everyone else wouldn’t do the same thing. The staff working those clinics noticed that we were there regularly and when it came time for the COVID clinics, it was short notice, but they knew they had two very dependable volunteers, so they asked us to help.”
“The staff at the clinics got to know us very well,” Michelle added.
Michell and Vicky grew up in the Houston suburb of Alief, where they say they saw the struggles associated with the lack of convenient and affordable access to health care, including among their own family. The disparities they saw stuck with the pair, and in turn, fueled their desire to pursue a career in the medical field.
“Alief is actually designated as a medically underserved population,” Michelle said. “We grew up seeing a lot of our friends and family facing the realities of living in a medically underserved community. I see people like my parents refuse medical treatment and refuse medical advice simply because the cost is too much. It really negatively impacts the community and we both grew up knowing we would end up in health care wanting to serve and give back to our community.”
Michelle said she chose public health because she wants to serve the community, and not just individual patients. Vicky, meanwhile, decided to pursue her degree in biomedical sciences because it is geared toward people going into the medical field and provides great research opportunities.
While the sisters may have selected different majors, they said there was no doubt they would end up going to school together and that Texas A&M would be the university where they would work to fulfill their career aspirations.
“I didn’t see us going separate ways,” Michelle said. “Whenever opportunities like this come up, I always tell her we’re both always in it together. We pretty much knew we were going to end up here. It is a great school, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”