A Wishing Star

Julia Miao gives her passions her all.

Miao, a 2015 MVS scholar sponsored by Sunnyvale, Calif., Lodge No. 2128, volunteered at hospitals and care facilities and founded two healthcare- and education-focused organizations and a digital peer-reviewed journal. She was honored with academic, research, community service, and leadership awards and grants. She ran marathons, founded and edited peer-reviewed journals, published research, tutored and taught, and saved time to nurture her love of photography and playing the piano.

All before graduating from Cornell University in 2019.

Miao received a 2019 Gunther and Lee Weigel Medical School Scholarship, a scholarship opportunity exclusively for Elks scholars pursuing a medical or Osteopathic Medicine degree. This past fall, she completed her first semester at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York, where she specializes in pediatric oncology.

“I am forever thankful to Mr. Gunther and Mrs. Lee Weigel and the Elks family who have given me this opportunity and scholarship to pursue medicine and heal our communities,” Miao says.

Miao developed her passion for medicine as a volunteer. Throughout college, she served at healthcare facilities where she aided cancer patients, the elderly and their families. She provided a listening ear, compassion and empowerment. And, Miao spread her love for education—and the piano—by organizing health fairs and performing for patients, as well as teaching them how to play. Through her volunteer work, Miao gained a deep appreciation for the meaning of “Elks Care.”

“The Elks’ incredible dedication and perseverance in helping others further fostered my curiosity and motivation to solve global health challenges and to touch the lives of patients around the world,” Miao says.

Miao did just that. As the founder of the Wishing Star Organization, Miao led a team in service in the U.S. and Peru. They promoted education and executed outreach events to raise awareness of cancer and other diseases in a global community. Through Wishing Star, Miao organized fundraisers and donation drives to help support underserved patients

At Cornell, she investigated small molecular chemotherapy. She also conducted research on heart disease, breast cancer and fetal health. Her award-winning research was published in five peer-reviewed journals.

Miao plans to use research, alongside her talents as a compassionate artist, leader and educator, to give her patients her all—and help them heal with an open heart and an open mind.

“Embracing the Elks family’s commitment to service and Gunther and Lee Weigel’s resilience and dedication to medicine, I am daily inspired to advocate for the voices of our diverse patients and to deliver the best medical treatment and patient care,” Miao says. “I am inspired to serve and lead humanity to make the change of tomorrow.”

After losing her husband, Gunther, to a staph infection in November 2009, the late Lee Weigel wanted to improve the quality of healthcare in our country. To realize that goal, she partnered with the Elks National Foundation to endow the Gunther and Lee Weigel Medical School Scholarship, which helps Elks scholars pursue careers in medicine. For more information, visit enf.elks.org/WeigelMSS.

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