Brownsville women Natalia Davila and Sonya Rivera Montes are graduating this weekend from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and are ready to enter their next chapter in life to pursue a career in medicine.
Davila is graduating with a Bachelor’s of Biomedical Sciences and will continue her education this fall when she starts Medical School at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She decided to pursue a career in medicine after seeing a loved one fight breast cancer.
“I saw one of my closest relatives fight breast cancer. And for me, that was very touching,” she said. “I not only got to see what a doctor can do, but also the patient side and how it can be very difficult for them.”
Born in Brownsville and raised in Matamoros, Davila’s journey has not been an easy one. As an immigrant and first generation, she said even though it has been challenging at times, this has made her grow a lot faster and has made her more mature.
“I immigrated with my sisters only, so they are my mentors,” she said. “When I went through high school and college I would always ask them for advice. It has been interesting.”
During her undergraduate career, Davila did an internship at Baylor College of Medicine where she helped with research. She said sometimes she would doubt herself and suffer from imposter syndrome.
“I did have some impostor syndrome when I went to internships. I would think ‘I am one of the only immigrants here, Mexican, female pursuing this’ but, you also have to see the opposite side of it: That you have pretty unique experiences and that’s what makes you a good candidate,” she said.
When asked about her future plans, she said one of her biggest dreams is to be part of Doctors Without Borders since she would like to help underserved communities.
“I don’t know the specialty, but I do know that I want to help underserved communities. Like the Valley, or third-world countries,” she said. “I had the opportunity to go to Peru, so, I saw the health disparities that affect the patients directly. I was very impacted by that.”
Rivera Montes will be graduating as a Medical Doctor from UTRGV Medical School this weekend and will start her residency at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. She was inspired to study medicine after seeing many patients undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments as a physician assistant. After losing a loved one to cancer, she knew she had to become a medical doctor.
“My personal life experiences and after practicing as physician assistant for a couple years I had the desire to expand my medical knowledge,” she said. “This became a personal goal of mine so I decided to pursue and embark on this journey of becoming an MD (medical doctor.) I am so thankful for this journey as I feel I have grown so much both personally and professionally.”
Rivera Montes said it was important for her to stay in the Rio Grande Valley to complete her education. She said the sense of camaraderie among the residents and the team at the hospital is unique
“I was also born and raised in the valley and would be delighted to continue my residency training in my community,” she said. “Staying in the RGV will allow me the opportunity to live near family, friends and most importantly serve my community.”
Rivera Montes became a mother while attending medical school. She said her 9-month-old baby girl named Andreya was her main motivation and inspired her to push through it all.
She said even though being pregnant during medical school was challenging to say the least, she is so thankful for her support system. She thanks her husband for being her rock and encouragement and her family and friends for all the advice as a new parent.
“To all the Latina girls who have a dream of becoming a physician one day, my advice is to never give up. All your hard work, persistence and determination to succeed will pay off,” she said.
“Seek help from your premed advisors or find a mentor. ¡Sí se puede!”