Tinley Park teen’s goal has some teeth to it
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent January 3, 2014 3:44PM
Yee Mon Han holds a painting of a prominent historical site in Burma that she brought home from her most recent trip. | Supplied photo by Halie Cardinal
Updated: February 7, 2014 6:12AM
If Yee Mon Han had her way, everyone would have a perfect smile with neatly aligned teeth.
To that end, she is considering a career as an orthodontist.
“Both my parents are dentists and their friends are in the field. I was exposed to the field at a really young age,” said Han, a senior at Andrew High School in Tinley Park.
Han witnessed a dentist helping an older woman with a tooth extraction, and her interest was ignited.
“She was in pain, and after he treated her, she was so thankful and he helped her so much,” Han said.
The scene made an impact on her, and in April she got the opportunity to shadow an orthodontist to learn the details about what goes on in an office. She liked what she saw.
“I have straight teeth, but my sister has braces,” Han said.
Still, she is weighing her options and looking at all opportunities in the pre-med and pre-dental fields. In fact, she went on a mission group trip over the summer to Burma, where she worked with doctors and dentists in orphanages.
“The kids were not doing well and I saw a lot of procedures, extractions, implants and crowns and other diagnoses in the medical area that showed me what I could pursue if I went into pre-med or pre-dental,” she said.
In Burma, she was on familiar ground. Han, 17, moved to the United States from Burma while in sixth grade.
“The adjustment was easier than if I had transitioned in high school. Language wasn’t bad since I grew up with English since I was 3,” said Han, who visits with family and friends on her return trips.
She also makes visiting the Red Cross in Burma a stop on her itinerary.
“I help out there and educate people on how to keep the water clean so malaria doesn’t spread,” said Han, who makes the trip every summer. “It is very rewarding because I see two different worlds. I see the world I was brought up in when I was 10, and I see here. It inspires me. I feel Burma can grow a lot and I want to help them. It isn’t just Burma, either, but other countries who are in the same place as Burma. I see it because we’re living in American now and it is so different.”
At school, Han is a senior leader, and a member of mathletes, Mu Alpha Theta, the science team, National Honor Society, the golf and badminton teams, Model UN, Spanish Honor Society and swim guard.
She also competes as part of the Business Professionals of America’s parliamentary procedure team, which was a national qualifier last year. She also is a math tutor, homeroom leader and peer mediator.
She said the BPA team brought her out of her shell.
“As a freshman, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was very shy. Sophomore year, I joined BPA and I learned interview skills and learned how to run a business meeting. It brought me out and it made me want to learn more,” Han said.
A resident of Tinley Park, Han is the daughter of Kay Khine and Tin Han.
Next school year, she would like to attend Tufts University, Villanova, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola University or Washington University.
“My parents sacrificed a lot for me and my sister to be here, so I want to make it worth it for them,” she said.
Her world view also keeps her motivated.
“With a bunch of developing countries, how I can help them,” she said, “and I keep that picture in mind so I know what I have to do to be able to help those people.”