By Jeremiah Dobruck
9:53 PM PST, January 3, 2013
Newport Beach teenager Annie Fleming was born at Hoag Hospital. In the last two years she's spent more than 300 hours there. And on Thursday, she celebrated her 18th birthday there.
For about two years, Annie has volunteered as a candystriper at Hoag, running errands for nurses, interacting with patients and doing her best to make visitors comfortable.
The hospital helped bring her into the world, and through volunteering, it's also birthed her career path.
"She became a candystriper and it was life-turning. It was amazing for her," said Annie's mother, Penny Fleming. "When she became a candystriper she knew she wanted to go into healthcare."
After applying for the candystriper program and waiting eight months for approval, Annie said she instantly felt a draw toward the medical field.
Her application was approved just one day before her 16th birthday.
"It was the best birthday present ever," Annie said.
Her high school, Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana, doesn't require community service hours, but she's logged more than 310 volunteer hours at Hoag in the last two years regardless.
Annie spent her birthday in the Hoag cafeteria with her fellow candystripers, many of whom she now trains.
In the fall, she'll start her education toward a medical career when she begins attending Chapman University for health sciences.
She'll age out of the candystriper program in August, but she hopes she'll be quickly accepted into Hoag's volunteer program for college students.
"But they don't have the cute outfits that we do," Annie said.