Medical School faculty were among the presenters at the annual Houston Hispanic Forum’s Career and Education Day Feb. 9, which drew more than 20,000 local middle and high school students.
Held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the students learned about various career and education paths, as well as scholarship and financial aid opportunities, and met with representatives of universities, community colleges, corporations, and professional associations.
A panel comprised of faculty and students from UTHealth schools spoke about their personal backgrounds and the adversities that they overcame in pursuing their career paths, stressing how higher education was possible with hard work and good grades.
“This meeting is an opportunity for Hispanic and other minority youth to explore career options and to
have a chance to listen to and question professionals in many fields in a manner they might not otherwise have an opportunity to do so,” said Dr. Carlos Moreno, chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, who was a panelist this year as he has been for the last decade. “I believe it is important for me to serve as a role model for Hispanic youth and to encourage them to pursue higher education and to not limit themselves as they explore career choices.
“It is wonderful to see the excitement on so many young people’s faces as they talk with representatives from not just health care but many local industries and corporations.”
Dr. Cesar Arias, associate professor of internal medicine who hails from Colombia, participated in the event for the first time this year.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to try to encourage young kids. The message was that there are no barriers for your dreams. Everyone shared their life stories and professional stories, and the message was well received with the parents and kids asking questions,” Arias said.
Other UTHealth panelists included Dr. Margo Melchor and Dr. Joe Ontiveros, of the School of Dentistry; Dr. David Lopez, of the School of Public Health: and Nadia Garza, a second-year dental hygiene student.
A group of medical and dental students staffed a booth in the exhibition area to talk to youth about careers in medicine and dentistry.
“I look forward to coordinating this event every year because it’s such a great opportunity for middle and high school students to get motivated and learn about possible careers,” Melchor said.