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Bryan attended the University of Iowa College of Medicine


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Galesburg, IL 61401




Bryan Diaz '20

Chicago, Illinois

Major in Biology, minors in Biochemistry and Spanish

Bryan gained experience and connections through the Summer Health Professions Education Program.

Bryan attended the University of Iowa College of Medicine

Hi, Bryan! Tell us two things about yourself to help us get to know you?

I am a first-generation student and Mexican American. I spend most of my summers working two jobs so that I can afford school.

Tell me about your internship this summer.

I spent six weeks at the University of Iowa, which hosted the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). SHPEP provides a pre-health enrichment program to underrepresented minorities, low income, and first-generation students. Students can select a desired health track such as public health, dentistry, pharmacy, and medicine. By participating in the medicine track, I learned about the medical school application process and had the opportunity to speak with the admissions faculty. I took an anatomy course on the lower limbs that helped me understand what I was looking at when I went to the cadaver lab. Finally, I shadowed a pediatric developmental physician, which allowed me to visualize how different professionals work as a team to provide an effective plan of care for a child and their family.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to learn about medicine, but I also learned about other career paths in the health field. Throughout the program, many professionals from current students to faculty members eagerly shared their experiences about their journey. I always worried about not getting to my final goal, but I have realized that life is a bumpy road. Getting to the final point is not always a straight path. Being part of this program allowed me to meet people from different backgrounds with similar struggles and dreams. These connections have now become a support system and long-life friends.

I attended various workshops that focused on health disparities, financial literacy, and current issues in Iowa, such as the needle exchange program. SHPEP provides an emphasis on helping unrepresented communities. I had the opportunity to volunteer with Proteus, an organization that provides free healthcare to predominantly Hispanic migrant workers. In addition to this, I volunteered with ReSpectacles, where I uploaded the prescription of glasses into the database. Without SHPEP, I would not have the confidence and support system to attend medical school. I would like to give thanks to the Mellon Foundation for supporting this excellent opportunity.

What experiences most influenced your decision to pursue this internship?

Before the summer of sophomore year, I was fortunate to be part of a two-week program at the Jump Simulation Center in Peoria, Illinois. The two weeks were filled various activities focused on providing exposure to the medical field with an emphasis on hands-on learning.

In addition to this, I took a class at Knox called Literature and Power. Through reading various novels, we analyzed medicine through different perspectives. One of the novels we read was The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. I really enjoyed this novel because it highlighted how modern medicine failed to understand and comply with cultural diversity.

Why Knox?

I choose Knox because of the size. I attended a huge high school of about 4,000 students. It was hard to get noticed and create a strong connection with teachers. I love Knox because I can get to know my professors on a personal level. Professors are always there to answer any questions, even if it’s not an academic-related issue. Among the students, there is a strong desire  to help each other to succeed. The emphasis on one community makes Knox my home away from home.

What about who you are now would surprise your high school friends?

My time at Knox has allowed me to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. The diverse faculty and students have encouraged important dialogue around current issues. I have learned to be open to new ideas and be aware of the circumstances of issues that I care about. The various opportunities at Knox have helped me become a well-rounded student.

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Printed on Wednesday, July 15, 2020