By Stephanie J. Montoya, Northern Staff Writer/Reporter
Española, NM -- Northern New Mexico College senior Evelyn Juarez has been named as one of ten students nationwide to receive the 2020 Academy for Research, Clinical, and Health Equity Scholarship (ARCHES) and participate in a fellowship program with the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Juarez, who is pursuing a degree in Biology at Northern with a health sciences concentration, is the only New Mexican to be selected for the program this year out of 560 nationwide applicants. The ARCHES program aims to help students who are interested in medical studies and are committed to advancing opportunities for underserved populations to bolster their future careers.
“I want to pursue a medical career, not for the title or the prestige, but to do good for the people of my community by listening to them, elevating their voice, advocating for them, treating their medical diseases, and empowering them to take control of their health,” Juarez said.
This summer, Juarez participated in a six-week virtual enrichment program during which she conducted research, attended informational sessions, and was mentored by physicians, deans, medical students, and Georgetown faculty and staff. While the program typically takes place on Georgetown’s campus, this year’s session was held virtually due to COVID-19. However, Juarez anticipates being able to participate on the Georgetown campus next summer. She said that the COVID-19 crisis underscores the need for accessible, quality healthcare in rural and underserved communities, and has further inspired her to pursue her goal of becoming a physician.
Juarez learned of the ARCHES opportunity from Dr. Sushmita Nandy at Northern, who encouraged her to apply. She says that the instruction, mentorship, and research experience she received at NNMC allowed her to be a competitive applicant. This year, Juarez conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. David Torres studying the movement of T-cells through different types of tissue.
She said that being a DACA student has played a large role in her career and research goals. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Juarez moved to the Española Valley with her family at a young age. She graduated co-valedictorian from Española Valley High School in 2016. Juarez also currently works with the LANL Foundation as an early childhood program associate for Pueblo Outreach.
"Being a DACA student comes with its additional and unique challenges - challenges most students don't have to think twice about," she said. "Nevertheless, I find comfort in looking past the current circumstances, focusing on the ultimate goal of becoming a doctor, and thanking God for all the people He has placed in my life who have paved a way for my success, opened doors of opportunities, and provided for me unending love and support."
Juarez says she hopes her story will inspire others to pursue their educational and career goals. She also invites the public to join her as she presents her ARCHES Capstone research project, “Undocumented Immigrants and the Healthcare System” at 1 p.m. via Zoom on Friday, August 7. You can also read about her experience during the program via the ARCHES blog here.