New Brownsville MD to do residency at Harvard Medical

Dr. Monique Rodriguez, DPM Class of 2021 (Courtesy photo)

Brownsville native Monique G. Rodriguez will become a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine on Saturday and after completing her residency plans to return to the Rio Grande Valley to start her practice as a podiatrist and podiatric surgeon to give back to her community.

Rodriguez, a Hanna High School and Texas A&M graduate, will receive her medical degree from the California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland and attend the Harvard Medical School’s podiatric surgery residency program at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., becoming the first Latina and only the fourth woman to be in the program.

At Hanna, where she graduated in 2008, she was part of the medical program and a sports athletic trainer. “That’s where I feel like everything started,” she said.

Rodriguez went on to earn a bachelor’s of science in biology at Texas A&M University in College Station as a Gates Millenium Scholar. After graduation, she substitute taught in the Brownsville Independent School District for a year while she prepared for the MCAT medical school entrance exam. She decided in 2017 to pursue podiatry as her specialization.

Becoming a physician and surgeon has been a life goal since age 7, inspired by her grandfather, Jesus Rodriguez, who came to the United States from Monterrey, Mexico on a work visa and became a citizen.

“I don’t like feeling helpless and afraid, and I want to be able to help people in their time of need,” she said. “My grandparents on both sides instilled in us that ‘we want you to have a better life than we had.’”

Regarding her hope to return to the Valley to practice, she said “anything can happen,” but added that among individuals who pursue higher education there is often a funneling effect.

“They tend not to return to the Rio Grande Valley where there’s a dire need. The RGV deserves to have top-notch medicine,” she said.

“It’s always bugged me that people have to go to San Antonio or Houston. Why does somebody have to travel six hours to have a surgery done,” she asked, then noted that with the establishment of the University of Texas Rio Grande School of Medicine the calculus is changing.

“There’s a new school of podiatry opening up at UTRGV, and I hope down the line to be able to teach at the school and have the students rotate through my office and OR to teach the next generation. It’s super exciting,” she said.

Rodriguez credited two local doctors as her mentors, Dr. J. Gabriel Guajardo, an OB/GYN who she shadowed in 2009, “was the first to take me into the operating room. That’s where my love for surgery began,” she said, and Dr. Juan Rocha, who in 2015 exposed her to podiatry and who mentored her throughout school.

“Sometimes it just takes one person saying ‘yes’ to open the door for you. It’s been a blessing, she said.”

Rodriguez is the daughter of Bonnie Delgado and Hector Rodriguez. Her grandparents on her mother’s side are David Delgado and Lucy Pace, on her father’s side Jesus and Elvira Rodriguez.

Because of the pandemic, the graduation ceremony will be virtual. The family is planning a car parade to celebrate the occasion starting at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

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