Mr. Rios, a 2018 program participant at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He is currently a junior studying biochemistry at UT Dallas, School of Natural Sciences.

Mr. Rios shares his personal story and experience with SHPEP:

“When I was a senior in high school, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for in a college. I am a first-generation, low income student and wasn’t sure how to approach going to college. Nonetheless, I knew early on that practicing medicine would be my ultimate goal. So, I enrolled at my local community college. I succeeded academically there. I was able to make strong relationships with professors and many of which I can consider friends or colleagues today. However, I found it difficult to relate to some of classmates. Many were older students, some were parents, and even if I tried to make friends, our busy schedules often conflicted. I essentially missed out on the social growth and personal development that came with being a college student for my first year.

In the middle of spring 2018 (my second full semester of college), I found out that I had been accepted into SHPEP at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. I was ecstatic. I knew that I was going to experience something great in Houston that summer. I wasn’t sure how or what exactly was going to happen, but I came into the program with the mindset that it was going to be a summer to remember. While in Houston, I found myself surrounded with so much support. Academically, SHPEP prepared me for classes I would be taking in the future. It very well could have been the reason why I fell in love with organic chemistry. The early exposure we had to certain key classes as a pre-health student was the most valuable asset every scholar had. At the end of the program, I had even met with a frequent speaker in our program and managed to publish an article about my previous research in emergency medicine on her UTHealth School of Public Health associated website.

I didn’t just grow academically stronger at SHPEP. Living among so many other like-minded individuals at Rice University allowed me to make so many friends. I remember that by the end of the first week, I had made a group of friends that would accompany each other on their individual journeys into health care. My closest SHPEP friends are my life-long friends. I know that if I ever needed anything, they would support me. Just like they would get out of me too. As I had just completed my first year at community college, preparing to transfer to a four year university, no other experience would have prepared me better for success than SHPEP did.

As I once said in a SHPEP program site promotional video, UTHealth has been so helpful and so supportive of all of their students. They made us feel like we belonged, and that we belonged with them. I am so thankful that SHPEP has been apart of my journey. And now as I have begun studying for the MCAT, I can only reflect on how powerful and life changing SHPEP was for me.”

Posted: September 2019