A chain of good deeds by philanthropy

Jennifer Youm

By Yinon Raviv '17

Jennifer Youm '17 wants to help others accomplish their dreams—especially people with disabilities. The third-year student from Sunnyvale, Calif., Youm is studying human development in hopes of becoming an occupational therapist so she can help individuals with disabilities improve their life skills and go on to thrive in their careers and daily lives.

"I have a heart for those that just need some extra guidance to reach their full potential,” she said. “It's rewarding to me that I can play a role in guiding people to be successful."

Youm realized her passion for helping others while teaching swim lessons in high school. Taking kids who had no idea how to swim and encouraging them and offering them advice helped her realize she loved being a guide, teacher and leader. Shortly after that, she met a family in need of help for their child with autism spectrum disorder. She volunteered, helping him with exercises and activities to make him more comfortable in the outside world.

At UC Davis, Youm hit the ground running by working at an elementary school in Davis as a teaching assistant in 2nd and 3rd grade classes. The Merit Scholar Recipient credits the scholarship in helping her focus on her schoolwork, giving her the confidence to perform well in her classes and the flexibility to pursue her passions. Since she stopped having to work her part-time jobs, Youm has received straight As—a testament to the impact scholarships can have on lifting financial burdens off students.

"Philanthropy, to me, is about selflessness. It's necessary for successful people to offer that stepping stone to others, so our society can grow as a whole together,” she said. “That's why I want to do occupational therapy: I want to start that chain of good deeds. This scholarship gave me that stepping stone, and I can't wait to give back in any way I can."