Gilroy’s future leader in medicine

Making a pact to re-unite, students immersed in this summer's National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine vowed to double their community service hours in 2014-15.

Life’s best lessons aren’t always learned in the classroom.
Incoming Christopher High School senior Ryan Weberg said those words after taking place amongst the nation’s highest-achieving high school students who attended the National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine at U.C. Berkeley July 6 through 14 to gain real-world medical career experience.
The aspiring pediatrician joined a group of hand-selected students selected to immerse in the medical industry, making a pact to re-unite in 2024 to see where their careers took them and double their community service hours.
“It is my belief that you are a product of the people that influence you,” Weberg wrote in a letter.
Nominated by trigonometry teacher Bob Santos, Weberg toured a Shriners Hospital, team-built with fellow invitees and ultimately solidified his medical aspirations: To help make the world a better place by providing cutting-edge care to America’s youth.
Weberg said he believes humans are a product of the people that influence them.
That’s why as part of the program he picked five non-parental mentors from different areas of his life: San Jose Police Officer Parker Hathaway, City of Gilroy Recreation Coordinator Monica Sendejas , orthodontist Richard Gallagher, National Sporting Clays Association instructor and trainer Jack Flesher and CHS teacher Mr. Santos.
The conference was an eye-opening experience for the local youth.
Students witnessed burn victims at Shriners getting cutting-edge treatments to lessen long-term scarring; they spoke during a forum; and in the end, the conference created a bond and friendship amongst participants, Weberg said. Weberg’s passion for medicine started at age 12, but it wasn’t until now that he narrowed down his specialty of choice to pediatrics. The conference augmented his interest in children specifically after seeing how doctors are helping victims of third-degree burns over 80 percent of their body, for example.
“It really made me decide that I want to be a able to help people,” Weberg said. “I want to do something to better help society and people as a whole; anything I can do to help would be amazing.”
It’s not the first time the aspiring U.C. Berkeley or U.C. Davis hopeful honed skills toward the medical field. His father, John, works for Milpitas-based Abbott Laboratories.
The experience was also eye-opening for Weberg, who was dropped off at the dorms to explore professional career opportunities in the expanding fields of medicine and health care.
“It let me see the world from an unsheltered position—not at home, not with your parents—on your own,” Weberg said.
Weberg said the event was life-changing. Not only did he gain insight into how to successfully navigate the medical school application process, he learned what to expect throughout a typical first year in medical school.
Spurred into action through inspiration, Weberg and others are striving to double their required community service hours this school year. For Weberg, that equates to 160 hours, but he’s not fazed—only motivated to give back to the Gilroy community more than ever.
“I believe that even though I am only 17, it doesn’t mean that I cannot give back to my community,” Weberg wrote.
Parents John and Debbie Weberg said they are very proud of their son’s achievements, both academically and in his extracurricular activities. However, the couple said they are even prouder of the fact that he is kind, considerate and compassionate toward other people.
“We feel that these qualities will help him be successful in life regardless of which profession he chooses,” John said.
He said that since Ryan was 3 years old, those qualities were apparent through his role playing as a fireman spending hours dressed up in turn out gear and pretending to save people from fires, making his family members and visiting grandparents become victims for him to rescue.
An overarching theme in Weberg’s experience equated to team-building, friendships he hopes will last a lifetime.
“I was amazed at how quickly and how close we all became in this camp,” Weberg said. “We really became great friends in a such a short time. We all were out there helping each other.”
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