Two Rio Rico High School juniors, Mia Valdez and Karen Zarate Camargo, were selected to participate this summer in the 2018 Joe G.N. Garcia and Elda D. Garcia Health Career Program for Latino Students at the University of Arizona. Both were recognized at a recent SCVUSD Governing Board meeting for their receipt of this scholarship.
Valdez and Zarate Camargo will spend 7 weeks at the University of Arizona learning how to conduct medical-based research from University of Arizona research professionals. Specifically, they will learn basic translational research techniques, learn how to communicate scientific concepts, and develop life-long relationships with fellow participants and mentors.
Dr. Skip Garcia, a Merlin K. DuVal Endowed Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona, selected Valdez and Zarate Camargo to participate in this year’s program along with 5 other Latino scholarship recipients. Garcia created the Joe G.N. and Elda D. Garcia Health Career Scholarship to honor the memory of his parents who were from the Segundo barrio of El Paso.
In a letter, read by Superintendent Verdugo at the Governing Board meeting, Garcia explained the selection process.
“In launching this program, I wanted to create the greatest educational impact for the brightest Latino students with the greatest need,” wrote Garcia. “We specifically selected 3 school districts in underserved Southern Arizona communities and asked the schools to identify Latino students who excelled in their math and science programs with interest in a summer research experience.”
Garcia said numerous applications were received from high schools in Tucson, Nogales and Santa Cruz Valley.
“All [applications] were very impressive,” wrote Garcia. “The applications were filled with moving stories of [students’] backgrounds, heartwarming tales of how medicine has touched their lives and letters from their teachers and school administrators validating the hard work of these students in multiple facets of school and personal life.”
Finalists participated in a series of interviews with University of Arizona researchers; reviews and recommendations were submitted to Garcia for final selection.
“I ultimately chose Mia and Karen,” wrote Garcia. “These two extraordinary individuals were poised, professional and prepared throughout the interviews. We spoke about their families, their upbringing, and why they wanted to potentially pursue a health science-related career. Their stories resonated very well with my own career path and my selection of a career in medicine at an early age. I saw that same passion in both of these ladies, and I wanted to give them the opportunity to expand that drive and curiosity.”
Rio Rico High School Counselor, Ami Kemp, recognized Valdez, Zarate Carmargo and their parents at the governing board meeting. “I am proud of Mia and Karen,” said RRHS Principal Shelly Vroegh. “They have worked hard this year demonstrating their commitment to and passion for the health career field. They are certainly deserving of this scholarship.”