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  • Dr. Natalie Diaz

    Psychiatry
    JAMP Alumna

    "Coming from an economically disadvantaged family, I could never have afforded the MCAT training course to help me prepare for one of the most important tests of my life. JAMP provided me with free access to Kaplan and to a summer intensive MCAT course."

    Read more about Dr. Diaz's journey.

     

    Featured JAMP Students

    Amanda Cruz
    Hometown:
    Houston, Texas
    Undergraduate University:
    University of Texas at Austin
    Medical School:
    The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

    "From the coordinators to the other students in the program, JAMP is a system of people who truly care about each other. I have never felt alone in my journey to medical school. "

    How has JAMP helped you as you strive to achieve your goal of becoming a doctor?
    JAMP has opened so many doors for me in my journey as a premedical student. The road to becoming a physician is a stressful one, but JAMP has made this burden a little less stressful through its financial help. I have felt the burden of paying for college lessen through the scholarships and MCAT preparation that JAMP provided. Additionally, the summer internships have allowed me to get a taste of what it’s like to be an actual medical student. I was able to take classes taught by real medical school professors and shadow different types of doctors, which I often find hard to do on my own. Additionally, the process JAMP uses for allowing its students to enter medical school is a unique one that gives us the ability to look at all the medical schools in Texas. This is such a great opportunity, and one I am constantly thankful for. However, JAMP goes further than providing just financial help and opening doors.

    When I applied for JAMP, I knew these opportunities would be available, but I was unaware I would meet so many great people and create such lasting relationships. From the coordinators to the other students in the program, JAMP is a system of people who truly care about each other. I have never felt alone in my journey to medical school. The coordinators and older students in the program always offer an ear to listen if I ever need help with my schoolwork, if I am struggling with a personal issue, or if I merely have a question to ask. Even so, the other students I met at my summer internships and at my university are some of the best friends I’ve ever made. Having others go along this journey with me makes the struggle so much easier, and their friendships make my goal seem more attainable. None of that would be possible without JAMP.

    What advice would you like to offer current or future JAMP students?
    I would advise students to seize every opportunity they come across. Whether this be in JAMP or outside of JAMP, you can never have too much experience! Shadow and volunteer as much as you can. However, also take time to do things you like. JAMP (and medical schools) likes to have well-rounded students, so don’t think this limits your activities to things that only relate to medicine. If you like football, play football. If you play piano, play the piano. Pursue your other passions as well; this makes you more interesting and shows that you have interests outside of medicine. Again, take every opportunity you can to experience medically-related AND non-medically related things.

    What aspect of JAMP has been most beneficial to you?
    Both summer internships through JAMP have been some of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. The internships allowed me to really get to know the medical schools I was placed in, and I got a sense for what it felt like to be a real medical student. I was able to meet medical school faculty and take classes at the schools – opportunities that are not available to most other premedical students. Not only this, but the preceptorships available through the internships were great learning experiences. I was able to really get to know the physicians I shadowed and see medicine through the eyes of different doctors. Apart from the academic opportunities at the internships, what I will remember most are the friendships I have made.

    I truly believe every JAMP student is a wonderful person, not only because everyone I have met in JAMP is incredibly smart, but because they are driven, kind, and have great hearts. Spending five weeks with our peers made our relationships intimate and caring, and I truly believe I have made lifelong friends because of JAMP. Our humble beginnings and common goals gave us the foundation to build our friendships, despite our varying interests and hobbies. Having to say goodbye to all these new friends was painful in both internships I attended, but that only shows how much we all got to care for each other during the short five weeks we were all together. I only wish the internships were longer, and that I was able to interact with every single JAMP student! The internships were definitely beneficial in the doors they opened but more memorably in the bonds I created with fellow future doctors.

    About Amanda:
    Medicine has been an interest of mine since childhood. Although I experienced a few setbacks throughout grade school – including family deaths and financial troubles that discouraged me from pursuing this goal – I refused to let these issues become permanent barriers for my future. In college I made up my mind about attending medical school. I shadowed doctors, took prequisities, and someone told me about this great program called JAMP. I realized I had to take this opportunity; I applied and was ecstatic and filled with joy upon receiving my acceptance email. Through JAMP, I have been able to shadow so many more doctors, experience medical school first-hand, receive financial help, establish networks, and meet some of my now-greatest friends. I’ve been able to take medical school classes like anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, and even work with cadavers and learn surgical skills alongside medical school professors and students.

    Outside of JAMP, I’ve done a lot of volunteering. Two of my most memorable volunteer positions have been at the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center and at St. David’s Medical Center. At APRC, I have gotten to reach out to the community and be a counselor and guide for women, which has encouraged my desire to serve others and interact with people on a very personal level. Volunteering at St. David’s has given me that exposure to medicine in that I was able to work alongside hospital personnel and even speak to patients. Notably, I also attended two medical brigades in 2014 – once in Panama and once in Honduras. There, I experienced direct contact with patients, helped provide medical service to those who didn’t have it, shadowed physicians, learned how to take vitals, and experienced a few of the best weeks of my life. The wonderful feeling I’ve had in helping these patients and learning what medicine is all about through these volunteer positions have encouraged me to pursue medicine.

    I am now looking forward to my last year in college and then going on to medical school. Currently, I do not know what specialty I want to pursue, since I’ve shadowed so many different doctors and am intrigued by all of it. However, I know once I see even more specialties in medical schools and set my mind to one specialty, I will be able to make the right decision. After that, I hope to work in a hospital and help those who are most in need. I have a passion for working with the Latin population and hope to use my skills as a Spanish-speaker to directly impact my community. Furthermore, because of my experience working abroad, I wish to work with either Doctors Without Borders or in other medical brigades. I am looking forward to enter a profession that is both personally intriguing and helpful to the community and people overall.