Tianna Negron learned about the value of service from her mother, a single parent who served 24 years in the Army.
“My mom is an inspiration for me because of her service in the military and with The American Legion,” Tianna said. “For her 50th birthday, she got money from family and friends and donated it all to charity. Now she volunteers a lot with The American Legion. She is pretty amazing. I hope to pay it forward and fill those shoes.”
Tianna, a fourth-year student at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical School, is among the recipients of The American Legion Legacy Scholarship for the 2020-21 school year. The scholarship goes to children of veterans on active duty since 9/11 who were either killed while on active duty or have a combined disability rating of 50 percent or greater.
“Truly for me, it would have been impossible to go to medical school without the support of The American Legion Legacy Scholarship,” said Tianna, who has received it three times while at the U of R. “I remember in the hospital as a scribe when I heard about winning the first one. I literally called my mom and cried. I couldn’t believe that it was real. It would not have been possible without the support of The American Legion.”
After graduation, Tianna wants to work in emergency medicine, aiming to work with homeless populations and addiction medicine.
“If the American Legion Legacy Scholarship didn’t exist, I truly would be looking at the cost of medical school and probably reconsidering my path, which is truly unfortunate given my passion for my future career as a physician. Money has really been a barrier for me going to college and medical school. The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is life-changing for me.”
The scholarship is playing a key role in helping her fulfill her dreams.
“What really spoke to me was being able to serve my local community as an emergency medical physician,” said Tianna, who went to New York Auxiliary Girls State. “In my future career in emergency medicine, I hope to be able to connect our patients with the resources they need, especially homeless patients and those who are addicted.”
As a med school student during the pandemic, Tianna has served on the front lines. Cases in upstate New York surged during the spring. Tianna helped out by putting respirators together.
“The coronavirus pandemic has reaffirmed for me that emergency medicine is the path I want to take because I have seen what a difference it can make in the lives of others, especially when they are at their sickest.”
There were times when money was tight in the household but Tamara’s outlook and volunteerism never wavered.
“She has always has confidence in me, always encouraged me, telling me I can do whatever I set my mind to,” Tianna said. “I would not be where I am today without her. Her confidence in me helped me have confidence in myself.”
Tamara, who retired as a sergeant first class, is a member of American Legion Post 1830 in Chili, N.Y. “The American Legion means a lot to me,” she said. “It’s a second family. Whenever I was able to come back home, they always welcomed me back home. It’s a comforting place.”
For the past five years Tamara has worked on the post’s scholarship program for local high school seniors. “I really enjoy working with the scholarship my post gives out,” says the 30-year member of the Legion. “And The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is great. It has a lot of meaning for me and my daughter. I don’t think we would have been able to get her to where she is going without it. We are so fortunate and very grateful.”
Just as Tamara inspire Tianna, the reverse is true.
“The work that she had to do throughout the years to get to be a fourth-year medical student was amazing. She works so hard. I am glad that the scholarship committee saw what she had and believed in her.
“Dreams do come true.”
Tamara has no doubt that the investment made in her daughter will strengthen her community.
“I know that Tianna will pay back 10 times over what has been given to her in her community and elsewhere. I am very thankful.”
Already Tianna demonstrates a commitment to service as a member of the Junior Auxiliary where she gives back by making blankets for veterans, sending packages to troops overseas, participating in Flag Day activities, selling poppies and more.
“My mom is and always has been an inspiration to me. Not only did she serve her country, she provided an amazing loving household for me and served as an amazing role for others. She is always asking what other people need. She goes out of her way to do things for other people.”
As Tianna finishes medical school, she remains full of gratitude.
“Every little bit makes a difference. As everyone comes together to support the community of veterans it means a lot. And I hope to contribute to this as I get older because I’ve been able to see first-hand how life-changing it is. And I would like to just say thank you to everyone who has contributed.”
After graduation in May, Tianna’s journey will take a new step, thanks to the support of her mother, The American Legion Legacy Scholarship and the donors who made it possible.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” she said. “You see some heart-warming and heart-breaking things, especially in the emergency department. It’s been an incredible path for me.”