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Mentor Me M.D. Student Attains Full-ride

Recent high school graduate will start pre-med studies thanks to substantial scholarship.

Thanks to YRMC doctors’ generous mentorship, a local teen with aspirations for medical school recently received the best graduation gift ever – a full-ride scholarship to a state university.

That student, Adriana Medina, credits YRMC’s unique Mentor Me MD program for helping her earn that wonderful scholarship to the University of Arizona.

The Mentor Me MD program pairs residents from our Family and Community Medicine Residency Program with local high school students who are interested in healthcare careers. The students come to YRMC once a month for learning and are treated to the chance for supervised volunteering at the YRMC Family Medicine Center.

“I am really grateful for the chance to be around the doctors and getting to network with them,” said Adriana, who recently graduated from Kofa High School. “The doctors really teach us a lot, like how to write good resumes, how to apply for scholarships and how to practice good study habits.”

In addition to her full-ride scholarship to the university, Adriana also received a $2,000 scholarship from the Foundation of YRMC and another $2,000 scholarship from YRMC Volunteer Services.

Adriana and three other teens represent the first graduating class of the Mentor Me MD program, which was founded two years ago by Dr. Kristina Diaz and Dr. Natalia Galarza from the residency program, along with Elizabeth Hammonds, director of Volunteer Services. Two of the program's other students received remarkable scholarships. Kenia Zepeda was awarded a full scholarship to Stanford University, and Justine Rodriguez earned a tuition scholarship to Northern Arizona University.

“It has been a wonderful gift and a unique opportunity for our student volunteers in the Mentor Me MD program to interact, shadow and build lasting relationships with our medical residents,” said Elizabeth. “The residents have taken such a strong interest in giving each student personalized guidance and mentorship toward a career path in the medical field. I have been so impressed by our young doctors’ desire to truly invest in these students’ future.”  

Also graduating from the program are Justine Rodriguez, Kenia Zepeda and Francisco Padilla. All participants in the program are junior volunteers at the hospital. Several will be first-generation college students.

Doctors Diaz and Galarza say they are honored and thrilled to help these aspiring doctors, many of whom would likely struggle to find the kind of special support they need to launch such a major, academic career.

“For both of us, Yuma is our home. We grew up here. This is our opportunity to give back and hopefully improve the life of the Yuma community one kid at a time,” said Dr. Diaz. “Our goal is to take underrepresented, underprivileged young people from the Yuma community and help them professionally to get into the healthcare field.”

For Dr. Galarza, seeing Mentor Me MD launch students like Adriana into a bright future stands as proof of the program’s value and ultimate success.

“This has been so emotional. I am so happy for her. She said ‘Thank you, Dr. Galarza, for getting my family through this rough time and helping me get to college,’” Dr. Galarza said. “Adriana is just amazing. She is bright, and she’s a go getter. She will be a great doctor.”

Dr. Diaz applauded her colleague’s commitment to investing in the youth of the Yuma community.

“Dr. Galarza is so passionate about helping people who are underrepresented in healthcare and helping to increase diversity in the workforce,” Dr. Diaz said. “Some of these kids will find their way back to Yuma and increase the diversity of physicians who serve Yuma County. Or they may be yet another gift of a wonderful Yuman to the world, all thanks to Mentor Me M.D.”

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