Thanks to donors, USask student realizes dream of studying medicine

This past fall Yuanyi Song completed her undergraduate degree in physiology and pharmacology a year early from the College of Arts and Science. Thanks to scholarship support, she is now on the path to obtaining her medical degree.

In her final year of high school Yuanyi Song remained undecided on which post-secondary school she wanted to attend; she contemplated USask and other institutions in her final year of high school. But when she was awarded the George and Marsha Ivany President's First and Best Scholarships, the choice became much clearer.

"The scholarship provided a lot of financial stability for my family and me; an award that size right off the bat was very reassuring and made the decision so much easier. I also knew that having the scholarship would give me the time to do the things that I enjoy and to get involved with student life.”

Although she grew up in Regina, Song did not know much about Saskatoon.  “USask was close enough to home that it was not a huge, scary change but still far enough for it to be super exciting. I think it was the perfect stepping stone to get me ready to move to the University of Ottawa."

Song explains that although she is excited for her new opportunity out East, she will miss her time at USask. “The feeling that you can get involved with a lot of different initiatives and communities around campus makes it feel very intimate but also like you have a voice. That makes me feel closer to the faculty and people who are teaching me. The tight-knit feeling is what I like and will miss most about USask."

Song was attracted to her program of physiology and pharmacology because of the USask faculty. She heard the faculty was incredibly supportive, and being interested in neurobiology and neurophysiology, the direction just made sense.

“I am interested in geriatric medicine,” Song explains of her plans entering medical school. “I have attended many USask conferences put on by medical students in the past few years.  There have been great speakers, and I learned through those events the value of aging."

Song explained that when we talk about the aging population, it is often about how we have to prepare for the strain they are going to pose on the health care system. But she has learned that it is important to acknowledge getting old as something to be celebrated. “With my immigrant background, knowing and seeing how we value our elders, is very telling.  I think because my family lives with and takes care of my grandparents, I see different ways of handling problems.  That is the direction I am planning on taking my education."

Although hindsight is 20/20, Song wishes she had more time to explore the humanities. “I am someone who really loves science but also really appreciates the studies in the arts and humanities; I think there is value in both and having them complement each other is something I think is important."

Song explained that she finds it funny when people ask if she chose medicine because she wants to help people. She believes that any profession you chose is helping people or providing a service that people need or want. With everything that is happening in the world today, Song said she is always wondering how best she can help people.

“When I read the news and get upset with everything happening around the world, I think there is a call for systemic change on a lot of these issues. I still want to pursue medicine, but I think it is likely that I will contemplate policy work in the future. I am not abandoning my hopes of becoming a doctor. I think I am opening myself up to use my medical knowledge to help even more people." 

Song has big plans for the future; she said moving to Ottawa is just the beginning for her. “I plan to make my mark on the world through the intimate and one-on-one interaction with my community members—that’s where I thrive and what I enjoy most about the medical profession. Being part of that community, meeting and learning from them while I help them is important to me. I think that is the most valuable thing for making a difference.” Song plans to continue making close connections with people a priority in her life as these relationships can genuinely open a world of possibilities.

Song offers her sincerest gratitude to the donors that supported her scholarship. Even though she does not personally know who they are, she is forever thankful for their generosity. “I could not thank them enough for the peace of mind that they have brought me. They have made an incredible mark on me. I hope they continue to support other students because I know that anyone with this support will able to accomplish so much.”

Although Song is pursuing her medical career in Ottawa, she will forever appreciate all she has gained from her time at USask. “Donors influenced my decision to come to USask, and I do not regret a single thing about coming here. I cherish becoming part of the groups that I have been a part and meeting the people I have here.”


J.W. Georgy Ivany was the seventh President of the University of Saskatchewan, serving two terms from 1989-1999. The George and Marsha Ivany President's First and Best Scholarships were created to acknowledge student leadership and contribution to community and school life.

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