Benjamin Young, MD and his wife DeDe at the scholarship donation signing ceremony.
Dr. Benjamin Young and his wife, DeDe, recently established the Ben and DeDe Young Endowed Scholarship that will be awarded to a third-year medical student with the greatest financial need.
As the former Dean of Students at the University of Hawai’i (UH) John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) for nearly 15 years, Dr. Young, along with his wife, recall many cherished memories spent mentoring both premed and medical students and opening up their home to many aspiring physicians who spent their formative years at the UH medical school.
For this reason, they wanted to establish an endowed scholarship for medical students with financial need.
“As our Dean of Students, Dr. Young was highly respected and cherished,” said Dr. Larry Burgess, JABSOM Director of Student Affairs. “He was a role model for students and faculty, as he exemplified a never ending spirit for both medicine and life itself. As the current Dean of Students, I can only try my best to emulate his positive outlook and enthusiasm. Through Dr. Young’s mentorship and influence, he is still helping to develop the next generation of JABSOM physicians.”
About the Donors: Overcoming obstacles to be together
Benjamin had humble beginnings. He was born in Hawaiʻi and raised near Pālama Settlement in Kalihi and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1956. DeDe was raised in Georgia and the two met in the 1950s as students attending Milligan College in the hills of East Tennessee.
At the time Ben and DeDe were engaged, mixed marriages were forbidden throughout the South so they tied the knot in California.
Although Ben received his Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, he dreamed of pursuing a career in medicine and so he returned to school at Pepperdine University to study science courses over a span of six years. Upon being accepted to the Howard University School of Medicine, the Youngs packed up all their belongings in a 14-foot U-Haul trailer and towed it nearly 3,000 miles from California to Washington, D.C. in a 1953 Chevy.
The Young Family returned to Hawaiʻi where Ben completed his residency in Psychiatry. DeDe received her degree in fine arts from the University of Hawaiʻi, where she enjoyed the inspiration and creativity of weaving and painting.
DeDe and Ben were thrilled to have been part of the building of the voyaging canoe, Hōkūle’a, from its very inception when it was still a dream in the mind of artist Herb Kane. Ben served as the onboard physician on its maiden voyage from Tahiti to Hawaiʻi in 1976.
In addition to being Dean of Students, Dr. Young also helped to establish the ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program which serves as an intensive, one-year educational bridge to medical school for aspiring doctors from disadvantaged backgrounds or underserved communities. Dr. Young also was the former Director of the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence. He has also served as Chief of Staff at Castle Medical Center, and feels deeply honored to be selected as Distinguished Medical Historian by the Hawaiian Historical Society and named a Living Treasure of Hawaiʻi by the Honpa Hongwanji.
Benjamin and DeDe deem themselves fortunate to have been a part of the history of Hawaiʻi, the place they call home. The Youngs have three children, Noelani, Wainani and Kaina.