When Angelica Rodriguez was recognized as part of the Scholars in Urban Health program at The University of Kansas School of Medicine, she felt many emotions.
“I was so happy, I was excited and I was shocked,” she said. “I, along with other students in Kansas, applied to be part of this program, and to be one of the nine students selected was something I worked so hard for.”
The Scholars in Urban Health program recruits students from urban areas of Kansas who are committed to improving the health challenges faced by their communities. The program, which exposes students to a variety of health care services in urban areas, provides assured admission to the University of Kansas School of Medicine upon successful completion of program requirements and graduation from an undergraduate institution.
What excites her most about the next step of her educational journey is the chance to “go out into the world and transform society with the knowledge and experiences I have gained at Newman University,” Rodriguez said. “I am most excited to be able to make a difference in my community, especially for the underserved community in Wichita.”
Rodriguez, who’s Hispanic, shared that what initially got her interested in the medical field was seeing her grandmother struggle to get the medical care and attention she needed.
“Whether it was the language barrier or being uninsured, there was always something that was preventing her from obtaining the care she needed,” she said. “I was thankfully able to interpret for her at some of her doctor’s visits, and my experience as my grandmother’s interpreter made me realize the need that there is here in Wichita.”
In addition, Rodriguez has volunteered at the JayDoc Clinic, which is a student-run medical clinic that serves those who face the same obstacles as her grandmother.
“By volunteering, I have been reassured that this is what I desire to do in the future as a physician,” Rodriguez said.
For Rodriguez, Newman has been a big blessing. On campus, she’s involved with the Newman University Medical Profession Club, is a student ambassador and is part of the Honors Program.
“There is no doubt that I chose the right place to further my education,” she said. “I have nothing but good things to say about my classes and my professors. All of my professors have been willing to help me in whatever way in order to help me succeed in their course, whether that is by meeting with me individually, staying after class, or communicating my concerns via email and responding as quickly as possible. I have no doubt that my professors will do whatever it takes for their students to succeed, and that is something I appreciate so much.”
Rodriguez said that her mentors at Newman include Associate Professor of Chemistry Alan Oberley, Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program Kelly McFall, Assistant Professor of Biology Tomoko Bell and Assistant Dean for Arts and Sciences Audrey Hane.
Bell shared that Rodriguez is a natural leader with compassion and a true servant.
“She helps the Wichita community through volunteering for a medical clinic, and I can picture her assisting patients with kindness and warmth,” Bell said. “In my microbiology course, she wrote a paper with a meticulous research plan to propose how she can help children who are struggling with recurring ear infections. It was a blessing for me to have a talented student like Angelica, and I am super excited for her new chapter at KU Med.”
Ultimately, Rodriguez feels a deep sense of gratitude for her journey so far.
“I encourage others to never give up on their goals and dreams despite the curve balls that life may throw at you,” she said. “It may be difficult now, but the struggle will soon be over, and it will be all worth it in the end.”
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