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Tau Sigma awards student scholarship

By Matt Stacy
On February 6, 2013

Tau Sigma National Honor Society recently awarded Andrew Gong, a senior pre-med student at East Tennessee State University, a $2,500 scholarship.  
"I feel incredibly honored to have received this award," Gong said, "even more so because the local chapter selected me as their sole entry for the scholarship."
Tau Sigma, an organization that according to their website is designed to "recognize and promote the academic excellence and involvement of transfer students," awarded 33 scholarships nationwide ranging from $2,500 to $250.  Only two scholarships of $2,500 were awarded.
A double major in biology and chemistry, Gong is far from the traditional student.
In his mid-thirties, with the support of his wife, Crystal, his two daughters Alex and Alanis and his son, Andrew, Gong decided to pursue a life-long dream of becoming a doctor.
Gong and his family packed up and moved to Bristol, Va., in  2011. He finished his sophomore year at New River Community College, taking online courses. He transferred to ETSU in fall 2012.
When he is not attending classes or spending time with his family, Gong works in ETSU's Counseling Center through a placement for the ETSU Academic Performance Scholarship, which requires its recipients to perform 75 service hours each semester.  
Gong also volunteer shadows at the Mountain Home Veterans Administration Medical Center in the radiology department and says that he still takes the odd job as a home theater installer every now and then.  
What is even more unusual is the fact that his wife, Alex, is also a full-time student studying education with a minor in early childhood education.  
As if going to school full time, volunteering and trying to raise three children were not enough for two parents to juggle, Alex had been suffering from an undiagnosed acute uterine disease throughout most of 2012.  
"She struggled on and I had to play roles of mom and nurse quite a bit," Gong said, "A recent full hysterectomy in December cured her. Life is looking good."
Gong attributes his devotion and often personal connection to many of the volunteer opportunities he's had through Tau Sigma to him receiving this scholarship.  
"Angel Tree for example," Gong said. "My family has benefited from this program and nothing brought me more joy than participating in the program to help other families like mine last Christmas."  
Through everything, Gong maintains a positive outlook on life and thanks his family for their unrelenting support of him pursuing his dream.
"They gave up a comfortable middle class life to live on Ramen noodles, cut coupons, and generally do without so that I could purse my life-long dream of being a doctor," Gong said. "With that kind of love driving me forward, I have a deep personal obligation to do the very best I can." 

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