For Ann Luecha, a Diamond Bar High School alumnus, the motivation of her life journey has always been to help others. Having graduated at the top of her class in 1990, Luecha, 24 years later, is now a family practice doctor at St. Jude Heritage Medical Group back in her hometown, Diamond Bar.
As a family physician, Luecha sees patients ranging in age from newborns to the very elderly. She finds much pleasure in being able to work with multiple generations and form relationships caring for her patients’ many family members.
“It’s rewarding, because you get to know everyone’s history,” she shared.
Born in Thailand to a relatively poor family and having witnessed people without health care in that country, she knew from a young age that she wanted to do something to improve the lives of the underprivileged. “It sounds cliché, but I just wanted to help people who really needed my help.”
In high school, Luecha was actively involved in Junior Student’s Association, with a dream to become a public elected official. Eventually realizing this career required an aggressive personality and eloquent speaking skills, which she didn’t possess, she opted to her other aspiration—to become a doctor.
Luecha’s choice to enter the medical field wasn’t completely unpredicted either. Many of her relatives including her mother had been nurses, and as she had always been fascinated with the sciences, her decision to study medicine was a fairly forseeable decision.
Despite receiving invitations from Ivy League schools, she chose to stay in-state due to her parents’ urging and attended UCLA for her undergraduate as a biology major.
Her diverse interests led her to explore subjects beyond the science field, such as the social sciences and art, prolonging her college career to five years instead of four.
“I have so many interests, and there are so many interesting things about the world, and it was nice to sample all that [in college],” she said.
Luecha also shared that college was a period of growth and great personal development.
“I think college is more than just your academics. You’re at the age where you are figuring out who you are, separate from your family.”
She expressed how especially important it is for girls to be away from home in college because it allows them to mature, gain confidence, and figure out their interests without having parents or other influences pushing them.
“Certainly, you want to do good in the world and be successful, but you want it to be your choice,” she commented.
After UCLA, she went to Georgetown University for two years for a master’s degree in physiology, then five more years back at UCLA for medical school, then three years of residency in Long beach, before finally arriving at St. Jude. The strenuous 13 years of school ultimately paid off today because she now has a career she is passionate. about
However, as both a mother and a wife, she confessed the struggle of balancing her roles at home and at work.
“I think it’s more difficult for women, especially once you have kids, because when they’re sick, they want mommy,” she said.
Though this work-life conflict still remains an ongoing issue, she says good planning and sharing responsibilities between her and her husband have helped immensely.
Meanwhile, Luecha continues to impact her community with her compassionate heart to be a doctor that people can trust.
“My basic philosophy in life is to leave this world a better place than when I came into it,” she said.
She certainly is fulfilling her goal, one patient at a time.