2016 Tillman Scholar
As a child of two immigrant parents Rea was given a lot of blessings but not the benefit of experience to guide her when planning for her future after high school. As the first person in her family to graduate high school in the United States, Rea enjoyed being an academic and knew she had to take it upon herself to plan her future. Joining the Army allowed Rea to give back to the country that had given her family so much opportunity. Serving eight years active duty helped Rea discover her love of medicine through working in the burn unit of the Brooke Army Medical Center as a Respiratory Therapist. This experience, along with her own deployment in Kuwait, not only allowed her to serve her fellow soldiers, but also exposed her to the unique challenges facing military medical facilities and providers. Rea’s patients suffered from a blend of physical and mental health issues resulting from their exposure to stress and trauma in war zones. Rea saw that there was a great need for medical providers who could relate to these patients. Following her service, the desire to further help these patients motivated Rea to pursue the college education that once seemed foreign and out of reach after high school. The Army had opened Rea’s eyes to her full potential and inspired her to devote the rest of her life to improving the lives of others as a medical care provider.
Pursuing a degree as a Physician Assistant is the best way Rea feels she can live up to the Army values as well as her own, “Learn and Return.” Rea plans to continue to serve the military community, providing the much-needed care and health services to the underserved population of VA hospitals. As an unconventional student with unconventional life experiences, Rea plans to add a different perspective and appreciation for life because she has seen firsthand how quickly life can slip away.