"I will not be a doctor who thinks of my patients as patients; they are humans with stories, like me."

Pancho Alvarez

"It's so important for people to step back and really understand their communities so that we can change them for the better. My parents were both born in Mexico, but I grew up in the city limits of east L.A. I lived around a lot of immigrant families, going to schools that are 99 percent Hispanic. I remember being confused, noticing that I had an easier time than others because my parents were legal residents. In communities like this, you realize the importance of civic engagement.

"For my first service project in high school, a group of friends and I helped out with a city movement. East Los Angeles, which was an unincorporated part of the county, wanted to apply for cityhood, so we helped to involve and educate members of the community in terms of the voting process. Some people don't seem to worry about the problems around them, but I realized that it's so important for people to step back and really understand their communities so that we can change them for the better.

"My second semester here, I applied for a service learning trip in the Dominican Republic called B.A.C.E.S (Bucknell Advancing Communities, Educating & Serving). It has been my best experience at Bucknell by far. I already knew that I wanted to be a doctor, so it was exciting for me to go there and understand the healthcare needs of people in other parts of the world. It reinforced my future goal.

"I'm a pre-med student but I am trying to double major in psychology and Spanish. I don't want to go through a generic pathway that people might go through to get to medical school. I am really taking advantage of the liberal arts. My dream is to be a rheumatologist. I want to serve lower income communities where people don't necessarily have the means to interact with doctors. I feel as though knowing psychology and knowing how the mind and human interactions work will benefit me. I will not be a doctor who thinks of my patients as patients; they are humans with stories, like me."

Pancho is from Los Angeles, Calif.

Posted December 2012
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