Student Profile

Guillermo P. recipient of the Juanita Chiu Odyssey Scholarship

Guillermo P. ’20

Hometown: Pompano Beach, FL

“I want to sincerely thank you for making my experience here possible and giving me the opportunity to prove myself.”

How did your summer experiences clarify your career or academic interests (for example, a Metcalf internship or research opportunity)?
Performing summer research at the Weizmann laboratory has truly enriched my education, and helped to further clarify my career aspirations. During my time here, I have fostered a true passion for research and scientific inquiry while learning to utilize sophisticated equipment, analyze data, and collaborate with colleagues. Much of my research relies on nanocrystal synthesis, a form of study that relies heavily on trial and error experimentation. Although sometimes disheartening, and oftentimes tiresome, I’ve learned that success in research ultimately depends on determination and an ability to overcome challenges. Projects often fail after months of hard work, and others may succeed after only a couple weeks. It has also taught me the importance of research. We need research to find cures and better technology for medical imaging devices, to improve our basic knowledge of the world, and to end the pain and suffering of patients.

Please describe how you are choosing your course of study. Have there been clarifying moments in your Core classes or particularly inspiring professors who are helping identify your academic passions?
I’ve wanted to pursue medicine and scientific research since a young age. Coming from a family that faced many medical complications, I was often exposed to the challenges my grandparents faced while suffering from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. This sparked my interest in science, including biology and chemistry, and grew into a passion over the course of many years. Since my arrival at the University, a multitude of courses have further deepened this passion. For example, the humanities sequence has taught me to think more deeply about the changing dynamics of patient-physician centered health care, and apply basic philosophical models to these shifts. My professors in the civilizations sequence taught me to engage with 16th and 17th century texts, revealing the precedents set in our current justice, political, and health-care systems. As a result, the Core has helped me grow as a person, and morally; something that is truly important for a student headed toward a career in medicine.

What activities are you involved with outside the classroom?
Outside the classroom I am involved in Phoenix Biology, and I volunteer as a patient liaison at the UC Medicine Emergency Department. Phoenix Biology is a student-run organization that organizes community outreach events, including sponsored science fairs, graduate fireside chats, mentoring meet-ups, and course selection presentations. Serving as a board member is a truly rewarding experience in the sense that we provide students with much-needed academic resources and help set them on the right career path. In addition, it has bettered my interpersonal and collaboration skills. I am also a scholar in the UChicago Clinical Excellence Scholars track, which means that I frequently attend the Joel Schwabb “On Being a Doctor” lecture series at the UChicago Medical Center, engage in dinner conversations with physicians, shadow doctors, and volunteer my weekend hours in the ER.

If you could speak directly to the person whose gift supported your scholarship, what would you say?
I want to sincerely thank you for making my experience here possible and giving me the opportunity to prove myself. My passion is cancer research, and I will be dedicating my entire career to this one objective. I want to end the suffering and pain that cancer patients endure on an everyday basis and for this I need to become the best medical scientist I can be. With your support, I have been able to take the very first step in this long journey. Donations like yours help brighten the future of our world, providing students with the most basic skills they need, and giving them real-world exposure to the workplace. Without your help I could not have afforded the expenses of performing research in Chicago this summer and would have returned home instead. There are no words that can sufficiently thank you for this much-needed assistance. I now have valuable experience working in a laboratory setting and have seen several projects through to completion. This has been a rewarding experience, and one that I will never forget. I am now prepared to take the next step, and I will work my hardest until we defeat cancer for as many patients as possible. Thank you.