APS Seniors Accepted into Prestigious CU Healthcare Programs

APS is celebrating a quadruple victory as four APS seniors earned acceptance into the University of Colorado Denver. Three students will attend the university’s Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine program. One student will participate in the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Dental Surgery program. These prestigious programs, located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, aim to promote the diversity of medical and dental professionals in Colorado.

Meet the extraordinary young men who aspire to gain the skills they need to improve and save lives in their communities.

 


Josue Estrada: The Selfless Overachiever
Hinkley High School senior Josue Estrada made history as the first T-Bird to earn acceptance into the BA/BS-MD program. At a young age, Estrada fell in love with the idea of helping people physically thrive, a career he deems unlike any other. When Estrada emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. with his family, he didn’t know the most basic of words in English. Now, he will join his brother as a first-generation college student, soon to become a doctor knowledgeable of medical terminologies many articulate English speakers don’t understand.

At what point did you know that this would be your career path?
In late middle school/early high school, I knew that a medical career was for me. The question in my house was not if I would be working in a hospital or not, but what I would be doing in the hospital. At a young age, I experienced the aftermath of poor medical treatment and decided that I could grow to change the type of service we received.

Are you the first generation in your family to go to college?
Yes. My father did not complete elementary school due to financial circumstances at home, which interfered with his education and forced him to enter the workforce at a young age. On the other hand, my mother, the youngest of seven children, was encouraged to pursue an education and completed high school in Mexico. However, the nearest college was more than two hours from her home by car and her family didn’t own a vehicle at that time, so she did not go to college. Fortunately, my brother is a third-year student at UCD and I will continue this new trend as a first generation college student in hopes to make my parents proud and thank them for what they sacrificed for us.

What has (have) been the biggest challenge(s) you’ve had to overcome in this journey?
The path that I’m walking, in and of itself, is the biggest challenge I am still overcoming. I came to the U.S. in 2007 near the end of second grade, leaving everything I grew up with, including friendships, family and school. I arrived in a country whose language I couldn’t speak and an environment where I couldn’t voice my opinion. I encountered disappointment after disappointment, but yet I continue my journey because I know what the future holds store for me.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your acceptance into the program?
My acceptance into this program is one of my greatest accomplishments. Not only have I made my parents proud, but my school as well. I am the first from my high school to get accepted and leave a legacy behind. I couldn’t have accomplished this without my friends and peers, the abundant support from my mother and of course my main motivation, God.


Abel Negussie: The Inquisitive Visionary
Rangeview High School senior Abel Negussie developed a passion for medicine while visiting Ethiopia, his homeland. Astounded by the country’s inadequate healthcare system, Negussie felt moved to learn medicine and combat healthcare disparities in underserved communities. The future physician will join his older brother in the BA/BS-MD program to be the change he wishes to see in the world. As he continues to reach new heights, Negussie credits his single mother who sacrificed everything she had to raise her sons in America to ensure they receive a quality education.

What makes you passionate about the medical field?
Every day, 15,000 children die from preventable diseases. There is a lack of healthcare accessibility in the world, which has inspired me to use medicine in order to combat health care disparities.

At what point did you know that this would be your career path?
In seventh grade, my brothers and I visited Ethiopia. I was exposed to the harsh realities of poverty by seeing the sheer amount of homeless families. The healthcare system in Ethiopia is not even adequate for the wealthy, so I could only imagine the suffering that less fortunate families or orphans have to endure through illness. Instead of simply feeling bad for those in need, I decided that making medicine my career path would empower me to make the change that I want to see.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to accomplish what you’ve done thus far?
I would advise anyone with similar ambitions to start taking steps towards their goals as soon as possible. There are hundreds of shadowing/internship opportunities in the city as well as summer programs that allow you to explore career options to help you decide what you want (or do not want) to do in the future. Don't wait until you are certain about your career choice before you begin immersing yourself in the field because you could gain valuable experience or may decide that there are better options for you along the way.

What has (have) been the biggest challenge(s) you’ve had to overcome in this journey?
Growing up with a single mom has been a significant hurdle in my childhood. She was the only parent that I could look to for everyday life advice. Thankfully, I have a mother who would do anything for my brothers and me. If she overcame the hardship of leaving all of her loved ones and her hometown in order to give her children the opportunity to pursue an education, I can overcome any hurdle on my path to becoming a physician.


Jung Park: The Determined Humanitarian
Rangeview High School senior Jung Park learned about the joys of serving others when he volunteered at University Hospital. After visiting the Philippines, he also developed a passion for breaking down social and economic barriers. Born in South Korea, Park is thankful for his opportunity to pursue higher education in the states. His focus on becoming a dentist is bringing him one step closer to helping others. The biggest smiles he hopes to see will come from his family, especially from his older brother who is in the BA/BS-MD program.

What makes you passionate about the dental field?
I learned a lot about myself by volunteering at University Hospital. I was able to understand the value of helping others. I have gained so much knowledge and inspiration from the people I’ve met. The experience helped me determine that serving others is my ultimate goal. I was always fascinated with the concept of one human helping another. That is beautiful in my eyes.

What characteristics/skills do you have that would make you a great physician?
One characteristic/skill that stands out about me is my determination. I set my mind on something I want to accomplish and have tunnel vision to execute my plans. A great physician cannot quit on their patients; they must endure and be determined in what they do.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to accomplish what you’ve done thus far?
Surround yourself with individuals that have the same motivation and drive as you. Stray away from people who hold you back and connect with people who are willing to help you on your path to success.

What has (have) been the biggest challenge(s) you’ve had to overcome in this journey?
Part of my journey involves a period of time that I lived in the Philippines where I was introduced to what it means to be rich or poor. There is no in between, you are either rich or poor. The stigma behind those simple words isolates people. This idea was inhumane and dehumanizing as a little kid. I hoped that in the U.S., a person’s ideas would matter more than their economic status, but my journey hasn’t been as easy. However, I'm excited to continue to grow with my BA/BS-DDS cohort and take advantage of the great opportunities this program has to offer!


Armonium Tsegaye: The Hardworking People Person
Aurora Central High School senior Armonium Tsegaye grew up in Ethiopia where he witnessed his father suffer a life-long illness in a country with inadequate healthcare. Tsegaye was always fascinated by science, but this devastating circumstance ignited his passion to become a physician. In the U.S., Tsegaye realized immigrants have little access to healthcare due to cultural and economic barriers, and he hopes to bridge that gap. This first-generation college student overcame the challenges of not knowing English or American culture and strives to continue making his supporters proud.

How did you learn about the program?
I originally learned about the program through my friend Yishak Bedaso who earned acceptance into the program last year. In addition, ACHS' Aurora LIGHTS health pathway invited representatives from the program to speak to my Biomedical Innovations class.

 

What makes you passionate about the medical field?
When I was 10 and living in Ethiopia, I was devastated to hear that my father was diagnosed with a cervical herniated disc and told he wouldn’t live long without treatment. I can still recall the countless times I watched him suffer because he was unable to receive the treatment he needed. That dreadful event was the first thing that sparked my interest in medical care and in bringing change to under-served communities that lack medical access. When I was 11, my family was lucky enough to get VISAs for the U.S. through the diversity lottery. Even after coming to America, I realized that immigrants have little access to health care. Due to the cultural and financial barriers, most people in my community avoid healthcare providers. So, the thought of one day being able to help bring positive change to under-served communities keeps me motivated.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to accomplish what you’ve done thus far?
One of the main things that helped me come this far was having people that support me and whom I could reach out to. My friends, parents, coaches, soccer teammates and everyone else I am close to are very helpful and driven. I learned from them and they would check in with me when I seemed to fall of track even the smallest bit. So I advise others to surround themselves with people they can learn from and always be open to education and new experiences.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your acceptance into the program?
I am thankful for this opportunity. I thank God, my parents, teachers, mentors and friends for helping me accomplish this goal. I also thank the BA/BS-MD staff for accepting me into the program. I won't let any of them down!