GGC student pursues medical school dream; wins national scholarship
Stephany Sifuentes, 23, plans to be a surgeon and does not shy away from the hard work required to make her dream a reality. That work includes college, meeting family obligations and working at the Panda Express near the Mall of Georgia in Buford.
“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” said the freshman biology major. “It is the one career that has kept my interest.”
In 2001, Sifuentes’ family moved from Texas to Lawrenceville. She graduated from high school in 2012 and spent the next two years caring for her younger brother and working. A three-year veteran at Panda Express, she worked her way up to assistant manager and often exceeded 40 hours per week.
Sifuentes cites her family’s support and work ethic are particularly meaningful in keeping her medical school dream alive along the way. In 2014, she enrolled at Georgia Gwinnett College – the first member of her family to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“I am very impressed with GGC,” Sifuentes said. “The faculty are all so helpful and willing to provide guidance. GGC is also affordable, which is very important for me.”
Despite her long work hours and family obligations, Sifuentes maintains excellent grades, which she knows will be key to getting into medical school. In fact, she strategically makes scheduling decisions to ensure that her studies do not suffer.
“I particularly appreciate how my employer is so supportive of my working toward a college education,” she said. “In fact, my manager even encouraged me to apply for a Panda Leader award.”
Sifuentes took her manager’s advice, and was recently named one of only 50 company employees nationwide to earn one of the Panda Restaurant Group’s Panda Leaders awards, which provides $2,000 toward college tuition and fees.