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Medical Student Reflects on White Coat Ceremony

Thursday, March 29, 2018

On National Doctors Day, Sandra Vazquez Salas, a member of the Class of 2021, reflects on the impact of last year’s White Coat campaign. 

“The White Coat Ceremony was an event I’ll never forget,” says the first-year MedCat. Receiving her first white coat and stethoscope left a deep, lasting impression. “It made me truly realize I was a medical student and my journey to become a doctor was beginning.” 

Reaching that starting line didn’t come easily. When Sandra was 14, her father died from a stroke that stemmed from hypertension. For years, he hadn’t had access to proper care and couldn’t afford medication.

“This experience pushed me towards a career in medicine,” says Sandra, who plans to be a primary care physician. She realizes the impact that a doctor can have in a community. “I want to be able to help people like my father obtain the medical care they need and deserve.”

Financial responsibility for Sandra’s undergraduate education was solely her own. She worked full-time while attending school. “It was difficult to balance these responsibilities, but I was able to graduate in three and a half years. I pushed through, and that made me the person I am today.”

She hasn’t slowed down since that moment. This summer, she’ll work alongside a pediatrician in Douglas, AZ as part of the Rural Health Professions Program. “Besides enhancing my medical skills, I’ll have the opportunity to work with immigrant communities and improve my Spanish, two things I’m very passionate about.” 

Today, Sandra draws strength from her memories of the 2017 White Coat Ceremony – and the support donors like you showed for her and her classmates.

“When I’m feeling overwhelmed by school, I think back to that ceremony. It helps me remember why I wanted to become a doctor in the first place. Thank you for that amazing opportunity.”