First Person: Scholar to Council Member: An Alumnus Success Story

By Rachel Jantea, MD, Department of Internal Medicine

First person is an occasional series, providing firsthand accounts of outreach programs involving our McGovern Medical School community. This story originally appeared in the 2022 JAMP Program Repot.

Dr. Rachel Jantea - First Person
Rachel Jantea, MD

A few months ago, I sat for the first time as a faculty member at a JAMP Council meeting to review JAMP students for medical school interviews. I was overcome with humility. Fourteen years ago, my own JAMP application would’ve crossed this Council’s agenda, my own destiny hanging in the balance. Two years, two JAMP summer internships, and 1 Medical College Admissions Test later, I would make the agenda again—this time to determine my eligibility for interviewing with each of the medical schools. Finally, in 2009, I would achieve a milestone I could’ve only dreamed of without the support of JAMP—matriculation into medical school.

Since then, I’ve completed medical school, residency in internal medicine, and fellowship in geriatrics. Now, I have the privilege of serving Texas’ older adults, helping them achieve healthy aging and aligning care with what matters most to them. I also earned a masters in medical education, and as faculty at UTHealth Houston, I have the privilege of training medical and other health profession students in geriatrics, expanding my reach to grow the geriatric workforce that will serve these Texans for years to come.

Every patient I serve, every student I teach, is testament to the impact of the JAMP program and what it achieves. I had a very humble upbringing with parents that sacrificed everything they could to give their 3 kids a bright future, but 8 years of school to become a physician is a major financial hurdle. Further, a graduate of a small rural Texas high school, I didn’t have role models in the medical profession to show me the way. I was blessed to discover JAMP during my intern year of college and was accepted into the program. Between the support provided by JAMP, working as a resident assistant through college for room and board, and applying for every scholarship I could find, I was able to overcome my financial hardships.

Where the financial support JAMP provided was monumental to my success, the medical school preparation was invaluable. Unlike most other pre-medical students at my university, I had no one to show me the way to success. No mentors, no family or friends who’d done it before—no one on the inside. Through medical school preparation, summer internships, and mentoring, JAMP leveled the playing field for me and allowed me to reach my highest potential. Now I have the great privilege of giving back to the State of Texas for all that it has given me. In addition to serving our state’s older adults and training the next generation of health care providers, I also now serve on the JAMP Council, where I am committed to giving the same opportunities to other underprivileged students that I was afforded.