Meet Our Latest OppU Achiever: Angelina Xu
Name: Angelina Xu
Angelina is working to save lives and lower financial barriers to medical treatment.
We’re thrilled to announce the latest recipient of the $2,500 OppU Achievers Scholarship, Angelina Xu. Angelina is a senior at Ridge High School and the founder of her school’s chapter of Miracle Network, fundraising for pediatric hospitals and hosting virtual recovery journey support sessions.
Angelina was spurred by her uncle’s battle with dementia to find answers in medicine. She took matters into her own hands and contacted 50 professors to find and secure a research opportunity — a difficult feat for a high school student. But her dedication paid off. To date, Angelina has published seven first-author research papers and has received accolades from the American Academy of Neurology for her Alzheimer’s research.
But Angelina said her high achievements aren’t for personal recognition. She is driven to promote public awareness and to address the financial barriers to medical treatment. That led her to found a chapter of Miracle Network at her high school.
Angelina’s proudest achievement is the success of Miracle Network. In response to COVID-19, she began organizing virtual support sessions for patients’ families. While interacting with families, she tangibly felt the impact of her contributions — and realized the impact that volunteers could make.
“COVID-19 may have halted in-person events, but we were able to find a silver lining: the virtual nature of support sessions allowed us to reach so many more people,” she said.
But high achievements require perseverance. Angelina cites her parents as her greatest influence and motivators.
“They’ve always taught me to adhere to my true values and pursue things that have meaningful impacts on others,” she said. “Even if there are initial doubts surrounding my ambitions, my parents taught me to continue persevering, allowing my actions to speak louder than words.”
When asked what advice she had for her peers, Angelina said, “Don’t let initial failures beat you down. Find other approaches, and keep trying and trying.”
As for the future, Angelina is considering pursuing an MD-PhD or a major in public health. As a biomedical researcher, she hopes to find cost-effective therapies. As a physician, she hopes to witness patients recover with the therapies she creates.
“Many diseases are treatable, but patients don’t receive adequate care due to extraordinary medical costs,” she said.
By studying public health, she hopes to address and lower financial barriers to medical treatment. No matter where her path leads, she will continue to advocate for patients and their loved ones.
You can read more about Angelina’s achievements in her essay below.
Strangers. Threats. That’s how my uncle perceived us as his Alzheimer’s progressed. Last year, he succumbed to the inevitable because Alzheimer’s doesn’t have treatments or cures. Millions die from dementia each year, but loved ones’ lives should never be reduced to numbers. It spurred me to find answers in medicine.
Without connections, high school students face daunting barriers to research opportunities. Nonetheless, I emailed 50 professors. After all, I only needed one, and the effort paid off. To date, I have published seven first-author research papers and DNA sequences in peer-reviewed journals and an international depository managed by the National Institutes of Health. I have also received accolades from the American Academy of Neurology for my Alzheimer’s research. However, these are not for personal recognition; they promote public awareness — for patients like my uncle. By paving the way for cutting-edge medical research, I will continue to enhance state-of-the-art procedures. The end goal? To save more lives and lower medical costs — because everyone retains the right to life.
I strongly believe that early exposure breeds passion and nurtures the next generation of innovators. To address hurdles to research opportunities, I founded Research Club, aiding peers in science fairs and research programs. I am also president of Biology Club. This year, I spoke to our district’s science supervisor to receive the first-ever funding for the Biology Olympiad to eliminate financial barriers to STEM.
Since freshman year, I volunteered at Children’s Hospital for over 500 hours. On the weekends — even during life-and-death emergencies — parents were nowhere to be found. They were working to pay medical bills, the number one reason for bankruptcy in America. To alleviate these burdens, I founded Miracle Network, a movement that raises money for children’s hospitals. During the first club meeting, I laid forth my ambitions: I aimed to raise $2,000. Members sneaked glances at one another. Were her goals too lofty?
Perhaps. But perhaps we’d break that record.
As founder and president of Miracle Network, I made the fight against pediatric illness a unified cause. Different school clubs and sports teams formed “fundraising teams,” which fortified school-wide teamwork. For community awareness, we went door to door to businesses for sponsorships. Although initial responses were all rejections, we cheered each other on and contacted tens more, eventually obtaining sponsorships from Panera and Kumon.
Even the pandemic could not thwart me. I invited patient families to virtual support sessions to share their recovery journeys. One was a teacher from school who heard about Miracle Network through our fundraising events. After a tragic car accident, her son was in rehabilitation. While sharing her story, tears broke free with gratitude. Breaking down virtual barriers, we shouldered the pain together. Over the months, I organized 10 hours of support sessions, reaching 1,000 people. Just recently, we broke $10,000, which will distribute to local patient families who need it most.
I will continue to be an advocate for patients, the underserved, and the underrepresented. I also hope my actions inspire others to pursue their wildest dreams — even initially implausible ones.
Could you or someone you know use $2,500 for tuition? To apply, submit a short essay through our web portal.
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