People always want to know how a southern California native ended up thouands of miles away in cold western New York. Truth be told it is quite an intricate story, but I love to think of it as one of the ways that life always manages to bring things full circle. When I was about three years old my family moved from Los Angeles to Riverside, CA and we moved into a home we rented from a very kind, loving woman and her husband. Soon they became like second grandparents to me. It turns out that Grandma Ann, as I liked to call her, was from Rochester and I always remember her taking trips "back east" by train because she hated flying. Every summer she went away for several weeks to this mysterious place called Rochester and I never really thought twice about it for really no one in my own family had really ever left California and I hardly imagined that I ever would either. Many years later as I sat at my desk deciding what medical schools to apply to, I ran across the University of Rochester and knew that I had found the ideal school for me. In that moment I didn't even think about Rochester as Grandma Ann's hometown, I simply decided to apply because I believed in the university's values and felt that it offered excellence in education. To my good fortune, I was accepted and chose to come to Rochester for medical school.
Although neither one of my parents completed college -- my mother was only able to attend school up until the sixth grade and my father took a few community college courses -- they always emphasized the importance of taking advantage of the educational opportunities that I encountered. My mother emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a 13 year old girl with a family who was not even her own to pursue her own dreams of a brighter future. Her courage and strength always serve to inspire me to continue moving forward with faith that there is always a means of overcoming obstacles. My father was among the first few members of his family to complete high school and he also constantly reminded my siblings and I that there was nothing more valuable in the world than to pursue one's dreams. He started his own auto repair business at the age of 23 and it has succeeded for over 25 years.
My parents may not have had all the academic or financial capital to assist me in navigating my way through college, public health school and finally medical school, but they offered me values of common sense, a good work ethic and self-reliance and of course, love and support. Growing up we always worked together as a family at my dad's shop and spent numerous summer days and after-school afternoons learning how to remove and install engines and transmissions as well as making other basic repairs. Those experiences and moments with my family were invaluable and critical in building my character and providing the strength and foundation that would prepare me for my future.
Like most medical students, planning my future is a constant flux of new ideas and new passions as each new rotation and clinical experience passes by. At this point, my plans include pursuing a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and possibly a fellowship in Maternal Fetal Medicine. I would also like to find a way of integrating my public health degree into my career as well. I am particularly interested in learning more about health problems and outcomes of minority women, especially in terms of their access to reproductive health education, reproductive planning, and health care quality.
Coming to Rochester for medical school has been more than a "homecoming" in the sense of finally seeing Grandma Ann's hometown, it has truly proven to be one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. As I began preparing for medical school, I was concerned about how I would be able to afford it. Thanks to the generous contributions of alumni, I have been awarded with scholarships each year and attending medical school has transformed a dream into reality. I am ever grateful for the contributions that alumni make, and though I am sure that at times it is hard to appreciate the difference that even the smallest contributions make, they undeniably make a difference and I am an example of that.