ECHS@MC grads pursue careers in Midland healthcare

ECHS@MC grads pursue careers in Midland healthcareOctober 19, 2021

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Leslie Alvarez and Marisol Tarin have a lot in common. Both attended Midland ISD elementary and junior high schools; both graduated from Early College High School at Midland College (ECHS@MC); and both are now well on their way to becoming healthcare professionals.

Alvarez graduated from ECHS@MC in 2019.  At the same time, she also received an associate degree from Midland College.  In Fall 2019, she transferred to Texas Tech and will soon graduate with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry.

“I had always thought I would be a physician,” Alvarez said.  “I’m still considering that, but I am also interested in becoming a PA [physician assistant].  This past 18 months during the pandemic has caused me to re-prioritize a lot of things in my life.  What I do know is that I want a career in the healthcare industry where I can help people, and I want that career to be in Midland near family—the people I love.”

Marisol Tarin is two years younger than Leslie Alvarez. She graduated from ECHS@MC in May 2021, also receiving an associate degree from Midland College. She will remain at Midland College one more year as part of the Primary Care Pathway Program, a fast-track program to medical school. She is also the current Vice President of Service for the MC Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Currently, Tarin is completing her application for early acceptance to attend the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. If accepted, she will be able to start medical school in the summer of 2023, after she completes one year at the University of North Texas.  

“The journey has not been easy,” Tarin explained. “I usually stay late in the library or in the Fox Science Building to make sure to complete all my assignments and projects. Courses in the Primary Care Pathway Program move quickly, but I’ve always enjoyed a fast-paced environment. I guess that’s one of the reasons ECHS@MC appealed to me. I liked the idea of being able to graduate from high school with an associate degree at the same time. I enjoy being challenged, and I have found that I thrive when I can be involved in projects with a lot of pressure and intensity.”

Family is important to both of these young women, and both have parents who are disabled.  Alvarez’s father suffered injuries from an oilfield accident.  Tarin was raised by a single mother who is disabled.  In addition to her mother, Tarin also lives with her grandparents.

“My family members have played a huge part in my academic journey,” Tarin said. “I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in the 10th grade, and they have encouraged me every step of the way.  They have been supporting and encouraging to me to become a doctor, even though it will be expensive. Thankfully, I’ve received several scholarships including $2,500 each semester from the Slough Scholarship until I get my bachelor’s degree.  I have also received the Pioneer Legacy Scholarship, the Phi Theta Kappa Star Scholarship and several donor-directed scholarships through Midland College.” 

Alvarez said that she is extremely grateful to the Fasken Foundation for their unwavering support in her academic endeavors.

”Any uphill battle is easier when there are people behind you pushing you up that hill,” she said. 

When Alvarez graduates from Texas Tech, she plans to take a gap year and earn money to further her education while she works as lab instructor. During this time, she will also be studying for the MCAT medical school entrance exam and the GRE graduate school entrance exam.  

“I plan to take both exams, so I can be prepared for either medical school or PA school,” Alvarez explained.  “So much has happened in my life since I graduated from ECHS@MC.  I was just settling in at Texas Tech when the pandemic hit.  I was living in the dorms and had made friends and joined a few campus clubs and organizations.  We left campus for Spring Break in March 2020, and then we were told not to come back.  All our classes would be held online.  I decided to leave Lubbock and stayed in Midland, but because my family lives outside of town and we don’t have reliable WiFi, I would drive in to town to study and get my classes done.  Sometimes, I would park in a parking lot at Midland College and use their public WiFi, and other times, I’d hang out at Starbucks.

“It was also during this time that my older sister Karina was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and passed away.  Her three children, the youngest of whom is 2, are now living with my parents.  It’s been tough, but our family continues to be there for each other, and Karina was, and continues to be, my biggest inspiration.”

The pandemic played a large part in Marisol Tarin’s desire to eventually be an Emergency Room physician. 

“During the pandemic, I started volunteering at Midland Memorial Hospital since many of the hospital volunteers couldn’t be there because of the dangers of COVID,” Tarin explained. “I volunteered at the front desk and still do. Even during the pandemic, I wanted to help my hospital and develop the necessary communication skills needed for the medical field.

“The volunteer work led to a paid part-time job as a scribe in the Emergency department. I work approximately 20 hours each week and follow the physicians to each patient visit and chart for them. Even though it was stressful at first, I am enjoying the fast-paced environment of the Emergency Room.”

While both Alvarez and Tarin said that their main love is science, they also have interests in humanities, arts and social sciences.  They said that being a part of the Midland College Honors program helped them “broaden their horizons.”

During her time at Midland College, Alvarez researched and wrote a paper on the effects of a border wall on the ecosystems of surrounding border states and the social, educational and political impacts. In addition, her Honors project on gun control won Honorable Mention at the 2018 West Texas Symposium of History. During her time at Texas Tech she has worked with the Kingston labs, and through her research, she won 1st Place presenter at the 2021 TTU Undergraduate Research Conference. 

Tarin completed five Midland College Honors projects, won third place in the Rebecca Watson Creative Writing Contest, and fourth place in the Hilda Simmons Levitt Poetry Contest at Midland College. Her research paper for one of the projects entitled, “Applications of Mathematics in the Workplace” is currently under review for publication.

Leslie Alvarez and Marisol Tarin both admit that they aren’t sure if they would have realized their ambitions to become healthcare professionals if it weren’t for the opportunities they had through ECHS@MC. They both credit their success up to this point in their lives to not only ECHS@MC, but also to supportive, loving families.  Fortunately for Midlanders, both want to return to the community to pursue their career ambitions in the healthcare industry.


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