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Tanner Smida: 2018 Dugan Scholarship Essay Winner

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Tanner Smida is a senior at Ringgold High School and this year's winner of the annual Dugan Scholarship Essay contest. Tanner, pictured here with his parents Terri and Tim Smida, plans to attend Pitt University in the fall to pursue pre-med and will spend this summer at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Institute as an intern. From all of us at Dugan & Associates, congratulations, Tanner. We're looking forward to seeing more great things from you.

To everyone else who submitted essays, thank you for sharing your stories with us, and we hope to see your submissions again next year. In the meantime, we hope everyone enjoys Tanner's essay:

Although I could neither comprehend nor appreciate it until I grew old enough to attain a job of my own, I now realize my parents are two of the hardest working people that I have ever met or will ever meet over the course of my lifetime. Even before they got married, the two of them began to prepare not only for their own future, but for mine as well. My dad was a carpenter by day, and by night he toiled after hours for extra money by building decks, installing bathrooms, and renovating kitchens for anyone who asked. My mother spent the day substitute teaching, working at a preschool, and tutoring while continuously searching for a permanent teaching position. They gritted their teeth and saved every penny until my mom became a teacher and my dad had saved enough so that they could build a life together. They did not decide to buy a house but opted to build one instead. Once again, my father labored every night after his regular work day ended and on every weekend to build our home in thirteen months - without missing a single day of work. Toward the end of this heroic endeavor, I came along, compounding the work associated with building a home with the rigors of caring for a tiny baby. Two other boys followed in my wake over the years, and my parents diligently raised us to be the people we are today - endeavoring to teach us not only how to read and write but how to be compassionate people who share a drive to succeed and give back to the society that has given so much to us.

My parent's emphasis on a strong work ethic has always prompted me to go above and beyond both at school and in my community. My unflinching commitment to my studies ultimately led me to graduate from high school one full year early in order to attend the University of Pittsburgh this fall. Due to my innate interest in the biological sciences, I chose to pursue a career in medicine and began to shadow doctors in emergency medicine, radiation/oncology, and neurology as well as volunteer every week in the emergency department of Monongahela Valley Hospital. Being able to see these professionals in action has only enamored me more to the occupation, and volunteering has given me a profound and deep appreciation for what makes a hospital work. These experiences have cemented in my mind the positive impact I can have on people's lives as a physician and have driven me to work even harder to attain my dreams. This summer I have been chosen to take part in the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Academy which is an eight-week program in which I will perform cancer research. In addition, my motivation led me to begin a small lawn care business in my neighborhood to help pay for my tuition.

My drive and insatiable work ethic will be beneficial as I pursue a degree in microbiology and neuroscience and attend medical school. The exorbitant amounts of unending studying, the late nights, the anxious patients, the impossible procedures, and the crushing amount of student debt that I will accrue will test my limits. But I know that my family will always remind me of the importance of hard work for both the mind and spirit and will support me every day as I strive to reach my goals. I know it is possible due to the example they set.

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