"SHPEP strengthened my passions for topics such as health disparities in medicine and translational research."
Mr. Barca attended SHPEP in 2020 at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He is currently a fourth-year biochemistry student at the University of Florida and plans on taking a gap year upon graduating in December 2022. During this time, Mr. Barca plans on working as a clinical research assistant and will be applying to medical school during the 2023 cycle.
What led to your interest in a health profession?
My interest in the field of medicine stems from having witnessed and examined the flaws of the established healthcare systems that govern the two countries he now calls home. Upon gaining a deeper understanding of the topics of health disparities and inequity, I developed a passion for helping individuals who face extensive obstacles to healthcare as a result of cultural and/or language barriers.
What obstacles did you overcome in your educational or career journey?
As a first-generation immigrant student, it was challenging to navigate various components of my journey, such as preparing for college admissions exams, applying to college, and even adapting to a strikingly new culture. When I first arrived to America at the age of 11, my English skills were very limited. As a result, I experienced a significant language barrier throughout my early education and social network development. Over time, my English skills improved and so did my access to valuable resources such as mentors and scholarships, thus making it easier to find more significant experiences throughout my time as an undergraduate student.
How did SHPEP influence you?
SHPEP granted me not only with the tools to succeed as a pre-health student in college, but also with an extremely valuable network of like-minded individuals who are always willing to help one another out. The conversations I had with UF faculty during SHPEP strengthened my passions for topics such as health disparities in medicine and translational research. In addition, past the point of the program, my involvement with SHPEP has allowed me to exert a greater impact on the program via outreach as an ambassador and developing new ways to help program alumni via the National Alumni Advisory Board. Overall, this is an experience which has been monumental towards my career development as an aspiring physician and look forward to see what it continues to do for me in the future.
What has been your favorite part of the process? The most difficult?
My favorite part of the process has been the people I have gotten to meet. One thing I truly cherish is learning about others’ perspectives – whether it be about their personal backgrounds, their values, or even their passions. There is always something that can be learned from another person, and I believe my current social network has played a strong part in shaping my passions and goals in life. On the other hand, the most difficult part has been dealing with imposter syndrome. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I have often found myself comparing myself to others, or feeling as if I did not belong in a room with certain individuals.
What advice do you have for students pursuing a health professional career?
Always be a genuine person, no matter where you are in your career/educational path. If your passions align with your values and the work you’ve done, it will shine through whenever speaking with someone in a professional setting.