Why did you choose medicine?
My mother has battled various autoimmune disorders for most of my life. When first diagnosed, she spent years working with her doctors to find a treatment regimen that balanced disease control while mitigating medication side effects. This process was one of great compassion, concern, and teamwork alongside her physicians, and it was one that gave me back my mom. That was my initial inspiration: to get others back into the game of life who’ve been sidelined and bring them back to a full experience alongside their families and community.
Today, I continue in my pursuits to help solve the challenges faced by our ever-changing health care system and those it brings to our most vulnerable patients in hopes of becoming an excellent physician and public health practitioner who serves each person and community with a yearning for equity and just care.
Why did you choose UT Health San Antonio?
UT Health San Antonio sort of chose me, actually. I was lucky enough to go to college at the University of Texas at San Antonio (Go ‘Runners!) when a BS/MD program was started there (the FAME Program – part of the Texas TIME initiative for primary care enhancement). My best friend and I applied to the program as freshmen, and we were fortunate enough to be accepted in the only year that freshmen applicants were taken. Since then, my academic career in the UT system has absolutely flourished as connections and a scholastic family have been built over the years.
When housing interviewees to the Long School of Medicine, I often note the variety of developmental pathways that are unique to UT Health. From the various dual-degree programs (MD/MPH & PhD), to the strong humanities and ethics opportunities offered via the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, to the multiple degree-distinction tracks that afford faculty-mentored emboldening of the medical education experience, there are few medical education institutions that are offering (and boldly supporting) the multi-disciplinary education in medicine necessary to create the holistically trained and culturally competent physicians our communities need.
How has UT Health helped you?
The University has truly supported me in every way imaginable. Aside from being a leading institution in medical education, the integrative programs I mentioned previously combined with incredible professional mentoring and organizational support of me as a student has afforded an incredible number of opportunities for me to thrive on a national level as a medical student leader and researcher. They have supported me financially in several local, regional, and international research endeavors, while faculty have consistently put me in positions to succeed in leadership development and program-building activities.
Culminating my medical school career as one of the nation’s nine Pisacano scholars, I can wholeheartedly say that UT Health San Antonio’s vast developmental opportunities have been my foundation.
What is your plan for after graduation?
I’ll be heading to a family medicine residency at UC San Diego in California with plans to return to Texas for my preventive medicine residency. In the meantime, I expect to learn as much as I can about the integrations of primary care and population health as they are implemented along the southern California border communities in hopes of returning with best practices and understandings that will synergize with our efforts here in the Lone Star State.
How do you intend to give back to UT Health?
As a current undergraduate alumnus of UTSA, I can certainly expect to remain involved similarly with UT Health. Being an alumnus of the Long School of Medicine is certainly a privilege I look forward to, not solely for the prestige that it holds, but for the affordances to support an institution that has molded me into who I am today. I expect that I will be giving of my energies, mentorship, education in academic family medicine, and other resources in ways that will continue to further our common missions.
Who is your favorite professor, mentor or staff member? And why?
It is almost impossible to select a single person as there have truly been so many that I’ve grown close to and been mentored to this moment by. However, I will truly miss Dr. Carolina Gonzalez-Schlenker, who leads the Department of Family Medicine’s Community Health Worker (promotore) team.
Dr. Schlenker in an incredible ethicist of the art of care, champion for the most vulnerable of our patients and communities, and a fountain of wisdom that galvanizes all who she interacts with. Her passion for compassion, intensity for intelligibility, and commitment to collaborative communities is a rooting force for all who seek to better understand our purpose as a system of care and health promotion. Our long conversations, extensive academic insights, and now curricular developments shared over the years have given me both a unique and powerful understanding of what it means to be a healer in this world, both for my patients and my society. Her influence on me is not unique to my own experience, and I know without a doubt that her presence, persistence, and passion will be felt for decades to come here at UT Health San Antonio.
Mil gracias por todo, Dra.