Joshua Lara of El Paso (back row) was flipping burgers at a restaurant one day when he realized something needed to change.
“I kind of was going through life, and I thought, ‘I need to do something with my life. I need to go to college,’” Mr. Lara said Saturday during TexMed 2019, the Texas Medical Association’s annual conference in Dallas.
So he enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin, where he found himself managing a research lab on his way to a chemistry degree. But it still wasn’t enough.
“I thought, ‘I need to be doing something else. I’m not fulfilled,’” he said. “So I started working as an EMT in an emergency department, and I was, like, ‘OK I think I found what I want to do. This is not only rewarding but I feel like I’m making a difference.’ That’s where I ended up.”
But he still wanted more, and medical school seemed like the next logical step.
Mr. Lara is one of 13 minority students entering Texas medical schools this fall who each were presented with a $10,000 scholarship at TexMed.
Physicians selected one incoming student at each Texas medical school based on their academic achievement, commitment to community service, and desire to care for Texas’ increasingly diverse population.
“There’s such a great diverse class coming in, I feel really honored to be considered and receive it,” said Mr. Lara, who will continue his studies at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso in the fall. “I feel it’s a great opportunity to promote diversity and make an impact – and to not have to worry so much about tuition and cost of living!”
TMA created the Minority Scholarship Program in 1998 to help diversify the physician workforce to meet the health care needs of Texans and to encourage minority students to attend medical school by lessening the financial burden of their postgraduate education.
Diana Palacios of Houston, who will enter UT Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine this fall, says the scholarship will certainly help relieve some of her financial burden.
“My family does not have a lot of money. We come from Venezuela, and I’ve taken out a lot of loans so this is something that will help me a lot,” Ms. Palacios said. “I’m very excited and very grateful for everyone that donated and everyone that decided to pick me and give me that opportunity.”
Since the program began, TMA has awarded close to $1 million in scholarships to budding medical students.
Recipients are known as the “Bayardo Scholars” in recognition of the majority support provided by the TMA Foundation (TMAF) Trust Fund of Roberto J. Bayardo, MD, and the late Agniela (Annie) M. Bayardo of Houston. Gifts from the TMAF Patrick Y. Leung Minority Scholarship Endowment, TMAF donor physicians and their families, H-E-B, and TMA county medical societies also support the scholarships.
The other 2019 TMA Bayardo Scholars are:
- Maya Adams of Houston, who graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2018. She will attend UT Southwestern Medical School.
- Anna Amune of Sugar Land, who graduated from Texas A&M University in 2018. She will pursue her medical degree at Texas A&M College of Medicine.
- Mia Benavidez of San Antonio, who will graduate from UT Austin. Ms. Benavidez will enroll at The University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine.
- Megan Garcia of Dallas, who graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2016. She will enter The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine.
- Ashley Henderson of Diboll, who graduated from Prairie View A&M University in 2017. She will attend McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston.
- Rachel Ortega of Amarillo, who graduated from Texas Tech University in 2015. She will attend Baylor College of Medicine.
- Monserrat Paez-Espinoza of Plano, who graduated from UT Dallas in 2015. She will begin her studies this fall at University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- Michelle Raji of League City, who graduated from Harvard University in 2018. Ms. Raji will attend Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.
- Alexandria Rivas of Lubbock, who received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Texas Tech in 2017. She will attend TTUHSC.
- Yesenia Velis of Weslaco, who graduated from UTRGV in 2016. She will begin her studies at The University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine.
- One student entering Texas’ newest medical school in Fort Worth, TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, also will receive a scholarship, which will be awarded by June.