Mega Doctor News –
Walking through the halls of Sharyland High School, Marco Cruz seems to stand out from the crowd. Wearing his white lab coat with a stethoscope casually draped around his neck, he gets ready for his next series of classes that include everything from organic chemistry to biology.
As a senior who is also enrolled in the Dual Enrollment Medical Science Academy (DEMSA) at South Texas College, Marco has learned how to stay focused while balancing his high school and college-level classes that are giving him the strong foundation to fulfill his dream of going to medical school and practicing psychiatry in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I see it as an investment in time,” Marco said. “Like they told us in the beginning of the DEMSA program, it’s definitely not easy. I could say that I’ve had to give up a lot, but the truth is that I’m the one who is gaining the most out of what I’m putting in. My hard work is already paying off.”
The mission of DEMSA is to encourage area high school students to go into health care professions by providing college coursework and health related opportunities that will motivate, educate, and prepare students for higher education in the field of medicine. Cynthia Aldape, Health Science Clinical Instructor at Sharyland High School, has seen the results first-hand in her classroom.
“Students who are enrolled in DEMSA at South Texas College are more advanced in their studies than my regular students,” said Aldape. “I remember the first day I had Marco in my class. He was very motivated and inquisitive, with a natural hunger for knowledge. I could just see that this student was an overachiever with very specific goals.”
True to form, Marco is not going to take a break once he graduates with both a high school and an associate’s degree in May. He plans on taking chemistry and biology courses at the University of Texas – Pan American (UTPA) this summer with his sights set on the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine in the near future.
“The most important thing I’ve learned while enrolled in DEMSA is time management,” said Marco. “With this level of work, there is a lot of time that has to be set aside for studying. It’s taught me how to setup my day and prepare for even more challenging classes at the university level.”
In addition to his busy study schedule, Marco also works at a local CVS Pharmacy as a pharmacy technician in training. “I started out answering phone calls and shadowing the pharmacy technicians,” explains Marco. “Now, everybody knows me there. People come in to fill their prescriptions and are surprised to learn I’m still in high school.”
This maturity and dedication that Marco has shown throughout his time as a dual enrollment student will no doubt continue to serve him well as he starts at UTPA. “Because of DEMSA, I’m enrolling at UTPA this summer in higher level courses since I’ve already completed classes, like anatomy, in the dual enrollment program at no cost to my family. This is saving money on tuition, and it’s allowing me to create a faster pathway to medical school. I can’t wait to get there.” MDN