Kimberly was President, All Maine Women Class of 2014; President, Class Council 2014; UMaine Mitchell Scholar; and is currently a medical student at Tufts University.
“Good evening and a hearty Maine hello to all of you here tonight. As said before, my
name is Kimberly Dao. Just so you have a better idea of where I am coming from, I can give
you a snapshot of my background and what I have been up to: I was actually born in
California and lived there for nine years until my family and I moved to Virginia, then New
Hampshire, and finally Maine. I am the third child out of four. (I am part of Thornton
Academy’s Alumni Class of 2010 , the University of Maine’s Alumni Class of 2014, and
most recently a member of Tufts University School of Medicine Class of 2018.) This summer
I was interning at the United States Agency for International Development in Washington,
DC. And now I am living in Boston and actually just finished my third day of medical school
today, so that’s exciting. But what is really great is being with you all here this evening. I am
so thrilled to be back in Maine, even if it is just for a few hours. I have only been away from
Maine for a few months, but living in the city just makes you appreciate everything that
Maine has to offer. It’s just that being in Maine is way life should be! And I consider myself a
Mainer through and through although my family is originally from Vietnam. Both my parents
came to the U.S. from Vietnam in hopes for a better life. What has been consistent throughout
my upbringing is my parents always encouraging my siblings and I to do well in school and
to work hard in every aspect of life really. They wanted us to receive the education they were
never able to have.
When the end of junior year of high school came around, I had to start thinking about
if I could afford college, and if so, how much was I willing to spend and where would I go.
Would I go back to California where most of my family still lives or stay on the east coast?
To this day, I remember my conversation with my high school counselor, who also attended
college in Maine, specifically at UMaine Machias and USM. Knowing my interest in
medicine, he told me about the new partnership between Tufts Medical School and Maine
Medical Center called the Maine Track. For those who do not know, the Maine Track offers a
unique, innovative curriculum that offers clinical training experiences in Maine and exposes
medical students to the unique aspects of rural practice as well as training in a major tertiary
medical center. Both Tufts and MMC have committed to aggressively pursuing support that
will allow Maine Track students to attend medical school without an unusual financial
hardship. In addition, students at all University of Maine campuses, Bates, Bowdoin, and
Colby are eligible have the opportunity to apply their sophomore year. This Early Assurance
Program offers the assurance of medical school admission without the substantial
investments of time and energy that other premedical students typically make in the process
of preparing for the MCAT. So yeah, it’s a pretty cool program. While my counselor
recognized that Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, and other universities could offer me a high-quality
education, he stressed how UMaine should not be overlooked as a viable option.
With that in mind and a desire to stay in the pine tree state, I started looking at these
colleges in Maine. It quickly became apparent to me though that UMaine truly did have the
most to offer me with the best price tag. UMaine was the first campus I visited and I was so
convinced after seeing the school in October of my senior year that I decided right then and
there that I didn’t need to apply to any other college. I was going to be a Black Bear.
While preparing for my medical school application sophomore year, UMaine offered
me extensive support and services. Other UMaine students who had been accepted reached
out to me, the career center held multiple information sessions about Tufts and offered mock
interviewing, and the opportunities available at UMaine that I participated in helped me to
differentiate myself from other applicants.
Over the past four years, my decision to attend UMaine has continually been
reinforced. The things I have learned, opportunities I have had, people I have met, and
memories I have are unparalleled. During my undergrad, whenever I talked to any of my high
school friends who decided to go elsewhere, they were surprised about how many things
there were to do in Orono, ME and all the clubs and experiences available. And now when I
talk to them, literally all I hear about is how they’re unemployed and the outrageous debt they
What I can tell you today is that the education I received at UMaine surpassed what
my parents, friends, and I could have ever imagined. My parents taught me that anything is
possible if we worked for it. So despite the financial struggle to afford a secondary education,
the Top Scholar Award helped me become part of the first
generation of college graduates in my family. In addition, I graduated without debt and the
Foundation is continuing to help me in medical school through the Gilbert Loan, which is
like the jackpot of all loans.
The Tufts program is an incredible opportunity and it wouldn’t have been possible
without the connections I made through UMaine. A college education really consists of more
than what a student learns in a classroom; it encompasses life experiences. I have acquired
some of these through my UMaine involvement. Knowing I have the support of the UMaine
Foundation behind me, I am driven to be the best that I can be. It is part of being a recipient
of these amazing scholarships that I feel an obligation to seize all the opportunities presented
to me. I hold myself to high academic, social, and communal standards. And you will notice
this universal theme with many other UMaine Foundation recipients. It means a lot to have
our hard work be recognized but, more than anything, being a scholar also serves as an
inspiration to always do your best, to strive for excellence, and to give back to the
The unmatched UMaine community has fostered an unyielding desire to further my
education that has truly enriched my life. I cannot thank the Foundation and donors enough.
With the help of the scholarships I have received, I will not have to worry as much about
finances; it will enable me to focus on what I value, which is learning and being able to give
back to the community. I want to reiterate once again how much I appreciate everything the
Foundation has done for me, the University, and countless others.
Thank you and GO BLUE!”