My name is Rui W. Soares and I am 24 years old from Miami, Florida. Growing up as a first-generation American in a low-income household, with English as a second language, I found myself struggling early in my studies. My incipient proficiency with the language hindered my academic progress, and admittedly, the sciences did not come easily to me. Through my perseverance and strong work ethic, however, I was able to earn scholarships to a private high school, which in turn led to further scholarships to attend Boston College. At Boston College, I received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology in 2013 and continued my pursuit of becoming a physician.
My father’s quadruple bypass has served as the foundation for my drive and determination to become a physician. His recovery brings back memories of my six-year-old self, changing the bandages that covered the surgical wounds on his body and exchanging a warm bowl of Honduran "sopa de res" for a strained, perhaps painful, but loving embrace. This was care. This was medicine. And yet, throughout this entire process, I found myself wanting to know more. How did they "fix" my dad? Would his condition improve? Was he to stay in this new, compromised condition forever? That curiosity has since turned into motivation and has fueled my desire to become a physician. It is through this experience and my community that I want to be able to come back to my roots and aid those that are under-served.
Throughout college and my volunteering experiences, I developed an interest in mentoring and guiding youth. And while the motivation to become a physician grew with each volunteering experience, I knew that taking time to serve in Teach for America (TFA) after graduation would give me the opportunity to mentor young adults. I learned through working with TFA that teens in underserved communities have little access to health care. This is an example of what keeps me going and why becoming a physician is so important to me.
During GEMS, I have been immersed in a basic science curriculum that a first year medical student takes. Through this program, I have been able to work with other colleagues and mentors as a team to solve different biological concepts. We were able to detail specifics in our learning strategies and further develop these strategies for future assessments. If there was a colleague who did not understand concepts that were being taught, we made sure, as a team to step in and help. Through this experience, I can say that I am better equipped on managing time when given a rigorous workload. In GEMS, I have become a better student by being able to apply my learned skills to clinical applications. The program has not only solidified my study habits, but has also strengthened my communication skills. This will allow me to better serve patients by articulating diagnoses in a comprehensive manner. Medicine is about treating each patient as an individual while being dedicated to the patient. Working in a healthcare team, having the requisite knowledge, and communicating effectively are foundational skills that I have developed from my experience with the GEMS program.
One quote that always resonates with me is by Vince Lombardi. He states, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal is worthwhile.”