Thirty-nine Arizona high school students learn about health careers and college

UA College of Medicine’s First Med-Start Express Conference in Tucson, June 17-19
EVENT:             College Day Workshops
Students attend workshop sessions about the college admissions process, financial aid and college life. Keynote speaker and former Med-Start participant Andrew Hopper, MD, talks about his experiences in Med-Start and college. Students also meet with representatives from UA Admissions and UA Financial Aid.
DATE/TIME:       FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 9 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
LOCATION:        Cesar E. Chavez Building, First Floor
                             1110 E. North Campus Dr., UA Main Campus, Tucson
Med-Start studentsThirty-nine Arizona high school students who are interested in health careers are participating in the first Med-Start Express, a four-day, three-night conference on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson Wednesday, June 16 through Saturday, June 19. (Due to budget reductions, this short program is being offered in lieu of the traditional five-week Med-Start Summer Program.)
Med-Start Express targets students who are of under-represented and/or diverse backgrounds, live in rural areas and/or are economically disadvantaged. Med-Start Express participants are a diverse group of 16- to 18-year-olds who share a common interest in and curiosity about health professions and the college experience. They will enter their senior year of high school this fall.
Med-Start Express introduces the students to the variety of career opportunities in the health professions and the educational pathways each requires. Students meet health professionals and health professional students, and participate in hands-on demonstrations.
Participants also are provided with information about applying to college, financing their education and the nature of college courses and social culture. One day is dedicated to college preparation workshops: students learn how to apply to college and for financial aid and how to successfully navigate college life.
In addition, students spend three nights in a UA residence hall to experience community living and dorm amenities and services. In the evenings, students have a chance to relax and participate in social events, including a dance featuring a disc jockey and a game night in the UA Student Union Games Room.
Students participating in Med-Start Express include:
Ÿ Buckeye resident Hilliary Johnson, a student at Verrado High School.
Ÿ Chandler resident Shawn Chakkera, a student at Hamilton High School.
Ÿ Flagstaff resident James Garlant, a student at Coconino High School.
Ÿ Globe residents Amanda Voltura and Mallery Voltura, both students at Globe High School.
Ÿ Goodyear resident Brianna Moon, a student at Desert Ridge High School.
Ÿ Mesa residents Krysten Ford and Penny Metcalfe, both students at Desert Ridge High School.
Ÿ Nogales resident Denise Burruel, a student at Nogales High School.
Ÿ Oro Valley resident Brittany Foley, a student at Canyon del Oro High School.
Ÿ Phoenix residents Ruby Angulo, a student at South Mountain High School; Ashwini Kaveti, a student at North Canyon High School; Adele Koutia, a student at Arizona Lutheran Academy; Pauline Muñoz, a student at Paradise Valley High School; and Daniel Soto, a student at Barry Goldwater High School.
Ÿ Queen Creek resident Brenda Drake, a student at Queen Creek High School.
Ÿ San Manuel resident Merrina Sandoval, a student at San Manuel High School.
Ÿ Surprise resident Shani McCollum, a student at Valley Vista High School.
Ÿ Tempe resident Jordan Arvayo, a student at McClintock High School.
Ÿ Tolleson resident Raeven Maxwell, a student at Tolleson Union High School.
Ÿ Tuba City resident Jacquelyn Johnson, a student at Tuba City High School.
Ÿ Tucson residents Gloria Cruz, a student at Salpointe Catholic High School; Briana Cuestas, a student at Cholla High Magnet School; Freddy Driesen, a student at University High School; Yanira Ibarra, a student at Catalina High School; Kayla Loomis, a student at Tucson High Magnet School; Michael Miramontez, a student at Salpointe Catholic High School; Maria (Elizabeth) Molina, a student at Sunnyside High School; Carlos Ochoa, a student at Mountain View High School; Leslie Ornelas, a student at Desert View High School; Sarah Rogan, a student at Salpointe Catholic High School; and Paulina Vasquez, a student at Palo Verde High Magnet School.
Ÿ Yuma resident Nicolette Baldonado Greek, a student at Gila Ridge High School.
About Med-Start
Just two years after opening its doors in 1967 to the first class of medical students, the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson opened its doors to a group of about 20 high school students who came to the campus to attend the first Med-Start summer program and learn firsthand what it takes to be a health-care professional.
Med-Start was developed to improve health care in rural and economically disadvantaged areas and to increase the number of minority health-care professionals in Arizona. UA College of Medicine Founding Dean Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal, MD, who helped shape the College – from choosing its site and designing the original facility to recruiting faculty and raising funds – lent his support in 1968 to a group of idealistic and innovative minority medical students who championed the Med-Start cause. Those students included Marcos Duarte, Ruth Smothers and Yuel Tom, all of whom later completed their medical degrees at the UA. After Dr. DuVal’s death in 2006, generous gifts from family and friends established The Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal Memorial Med-Start Endowment, which pays tribute to the founding dean while supporting this vital program.
Several thousand students have participated in Med-Start since it was launched in 1969. In 2004, Med-Start grew to include a second program held on the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix campus: Med-Start Phoenix, which remains a five-week summer program. (This year’s Med-Start Phoenix program runs June 7 through July 9.)
“Med-Start is an intensive experience in which the students acquire basic medical knowledge while learning about health-care careers,” says Linda K. Don, assistant dean with the UA College of Medicine’s Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs, which administers the program. “In addition, they’re introduced to college life, which is vital to students entering health professions.”
“The real magic of Med-Start is revealed in the personal stories of career success,” she notes. “Whether the youth who have benefited from Med-Start became direct-care providers or chose career paths outside of the health professions, many have had a tremendous impact on the lives of others.”
As examples, she cites:
Ÿ Mariana Amaya, MD, a 1992 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 2001 and practices obstetrics and gynecology in Phoenix. Dr. Amaya also participated in the UA Minority Medical Education Program in 1994.
Ÿ Ernestine Bustamante, MD, a 1988 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1997 and practices obstetrics and gynecology in Phoenix.
Ÿ Carlos R. Gonzales, MD, a 1970 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1981 and is an associate professor with the UA College of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine. An award-winning family practice physician, he is a leader in addressing the challenges of border health issues.
Dr. Gonzales, one of the original Med-Start students, recalls that as a student at Pueblo High School, “I had an inclination to dream about going into medicine, but it was just a major dream. Med-Start motivated me.” He became the first in his family to go on to college. “Without Med-Start, it wouldn’t have happened. I would have worked in the mines or gone into construction.”
Ÿ Evelinda Gonzales, a 2002 participant and daughter of Dr. Carlos Gonzales (see above) who is a member of the UA College of Medicine class of 2011.
Ÿ Larry Oñate, MD, a 1978 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1989, is a psychiatrist in Tucson who also is medical director of the Southern Arizona Mental Health Corp.
Ÿ Celida Rangel, MD, a 1990 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 2002 and is a pediatrician in Phoenix.
Today, in addition to the Tucson and Phoenix summer programs, Med-Start promotes youth exploration of health careers year-round – through tours of the Arizona Health Sciences Center, high school career days, student health events and other activities.
For more information about the Dr. Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal Endowment, or to contribute to this important effort, call the UA College of Medicine Development Office, (520) 626-2827, or e-mail
For more information about Med-Start, visit the UA College of Medicine Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs website,