MC grad pursues medical degree, hopes to practice in West Texas

MC grad pursues medical degree, hopes to practice in West TexasNovember 03, 2022

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Diana Garcia Garcia standing near Scharbauer Student Center fountain.

Diana Garcia Garcia is the first in her family to receive a college degree and in just another 18 months will earn a medical degree.  She and her family moved to Midland from Bakersfield, CA at the end of her 8th grade year in school, and she graduated in the top 10 percent of her class in 2016 from Lee High School (now Legacy High School).  Diana’s father is in the swimming pool business, and her mother works at Wal-Mart in Midland.  She is 24 years old and the oldest sibling in her family.  She has a younger brother (age 23) and two younger sisters (ages 17 and 10).

“I always wanted to be a doctor,” Diana said.  “I don’t remember when my younger brother was born because I am only a year and seven months older than he, but my parents said that I was in the delivery room when he was born and was fascinated by the medical professionals in the room.”

It was in the spring of her senior year in high school that Midland College announced the start of its Primary Care Pathway program—a partnership among Midland College (MC), the University of North Texas (UNT), Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) and Midland Health.  Program participants begin their higher education at Midland College and then study at UNT and TCOM before finally completing their medical school journey with two years of clinical experience through Midland Health.  This past summer, Diana moved back to her family home in Midland and began her clinical rotations.  She said that the Primary Care Pathway Program came at just the right time for her to realize her dream of becoming a doctor.

“I really couldn’t believe that this amazing opportunity was available to me,” she said.  “I was able to live at home for two years, take advantage of Midland College scholarships and get my first two years of a college education from the great professors at MC who took an interest in me and wanted me to succeed.”

After graduating from Midland College with an associate degree, Diana moved to Fort Worth and continued her college education at UNT in Denton.  

“I chose to move to Fort Worth instead of Denton because TCOM is in Fort Worth, and I didn’t want to have to move twice,” she said.  “To save money, I would take the bus every day to UNT.  It was an hour’s bus ride each way.  I was really glad when I was able to start medical school at TCOM near my apartment.  It was a much shorter commute!”

While at TCOM, Diana volunteered with the Texas Rural Health Association.  She participated in several of the association’s projects in Texas/Mexico border communities, first serving as a translator and then helping with medical exams and performing routine medical services.  

“These trips were really eye-opening experiences for me,” she said.  “Residents of small, rural border communities desperately need quality healthcare.  It sparked my interest, and I think that eventually when I become board-certified, I would like to be a physician, at least part of the time, in a rural West Texas border community, like Sanderson or Presidio.”

Diana will graduate from TCOM in May 2024 and said that she is leaning toward specializing in pediatrics and definitely wants to practice in West Texas—whether it’s Midland or a smaller community.  She is fluent in both English and Spanish and feels that being bilingual is an asset for a West Texas physician, especially a pediatrician, who has to communicate with both children and parents.

“People often ask me about the Primary Care Pathway program because being able to start at a community college and then transfer to a four-year university and eventually to medical school is a unique opportunity,” Diana said.  “I would do it all over again.  I’ve had a great support system throughout my time in college and medical school.  I felt like all my professors were invested in me, but especially my Midland College professors.  I participated in Midland College research opportunities, was a member of the MC Chemistry Club and a member of the MC Regents.  I still keep in touch with my Midland College math and science professors!

Family and faith are very important to Diana.  She said that her faith has gotten her through some tough times.  Now that she is back in Midland living at home while performing the clinical portion of her medical school education, she makes sure to dedicate each Saturday to being with her family.  

“Saturday is my ‘day off,’” she explained.  “I think it’s healthy to have a break from studying and be able to appreciate the people I love.  We go to church and have Saturday movie nights.  But, then on Sunday it’s back to studying!”

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