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UTHealth Ambassadors

  • Yasmeen GurmendiYasmeen Gurmendi – SMDEP 2014

    "My name is Yasmeen Gurmendi, and I’m studying Biology at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I’m currently a junior and plan on applying to dental school this spring. I am an active member of the student body, and this academic year I am the President of the NMSU Arts and Science Council, Vice President of the Pre-Dental Society, and a member of the NMSU Therapeutic Riding Association. I’m working as a BioCat for Biology 111 at my school and I’m a member of an honors fraternity (Sigma Alpha Lambda). I shadow a dentist, ride horses, and explore various literary works in my spare time.

    I attended the SMDEP in 2014, the summer after my sophomore year of college. It was an experience that really opened my eyes to the future of America’s healthcare system—so many bright, dedicated, and diverse people are interested in becoming physicians and dentists. Meeting like-minded students in an academically stimulating (yet fun!) environment gave me some insight into what dental school will be like in the near future for me! The SMDEP is a fantastic program because it opens doors to both dentistry and medicine—allowing scholars to explore both facets of the healthcare profession is very unique.

    I decided to become an Ambassador because I felt that no one in my area really knew about the SMDEP; I wanted to spread awareness about this program and encourage my peers to apply! Thus far it has been a rewarding experience that has allowed me to network with other pre-dents and pre-meds that will surely be my colleagues in the near future."

  • Eurika NzouatchamEurika Nzouatcham – SMDEP 2014

    "My name is Eurika Nzouatcham, and I am from Cameroon in Central Africa. I came to America two years ago with my family. We currently reside in Maryland. I am majoring in Biology at Montgomery Community College, Rockville campus. I was honored to be part of the SMDEP 2014.

    Attending the SMDEP program was an incredible experience for me. I had the opportunity to live with people who not only share the same passion as me but are also spectacular and ambitious. By that I mean that everyone - my classmates and roommates, as well as the tutors and professionals. We were always with first year medical school students. Some of them had previously attended SMDEP, or they knew someone who had. In this program, we had the opportunity to shadow and personally talk with physicians, who shared their contact information. Personally, my favorite event was the anatomy lab - we studied bones, and muscles on a real cadaver! Except for the smell, everybody was fine.

    Something I also liked about this program is that it helped me to understand some aspects of this field I was wondering about. Mainly it helped me to figure out that medicine was truly the career I want to do for the rest of my life. When you are in a domain that is yours, you feel so peaceful and it feels like home. That's exactly how I felt. It is true that is not quite the same thing, but I felt like I love it and I wanted to know more about it. I always knew that being a physician appealed to me, but I did not know much about it except what I saw in TV or hospitals. Given that I was still new in America and English was not my first language, I did not have the chance to experience any shadowing. SMDEP gave me a taste of it, and it was really good. In addition, they gave us tips on our financial life, on the application process, and so on.

    It was my first time in Texas, and I loved it. We had the opportunities to visit some of the diverse beauties of this state: museum, zoo, aquarium, NASA. I liked the healthcare museum.

    I decided to become an SMDEP ambassador in order to give the chance to other individuals in my areas. When I was applying for this program, nobody in my surrounding area knew about it. My surprise was to notice that in the South they were well informed about the program. A person even stopped me in the airport on my way back from Texas to ask me how it was. I realized at this moment that more people in my area need to have the information as well. Indeed, as soon as I start to talk about the program to my acquaintances, I observed that many were interested. Unfortunately, it was already late for some of them.

    Since I have been granted the function of ambassador, I talk about it to my classmates and previous and current professors, and provide flyers to organizations and clubs. I am about to present in a workshop on my campus, so I can reach more students in a small period of time. Some professors also proposed to spread the word to their colleagues.

    Sincerely, if you want to be part of a team, to feel like family or home, apply to SMDEP. If you are like me, in love with medicine, and you want to know more about your future in this field, SMDEP is a good fit for you. Meanwhile, if you want to discover an extraordinary state with welcoming people, you should definitely put Houston in your 3 choices. Good Luck to the next SMDEP participants and welcome in the family!"

  • Daniela OrtizDaniela Ortiz – SMDEP 2014

    “My name is Daniela Carolina Ortiz and I attend Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas, where I am currently a junior and biology major. My love for dentistry was awakened after experiencing an orthognathic surgery in Dallas, Texas. The surgery completely changed my life. While it restored full jaw function, it also allowed me to smile showing my front teeth, and to witness the tremendous impact a specialized dentist has on a patient. I graduated high school early and was enrolled in Texas A&M International University. I began to get involved on campus and became a member of the Pre-Dental Society, Chemistry Club, Rio Grande International Study Center, Freshman Leadership Organization, Sophomores Involved in Change, and was most recently admitted into the Honors Program at my university. Additionally, I was accepted into the 3+4 Dental Early Acceptance Program with the UTHealth Science Center San Antonio Dental School. During the summer of my freshman year, I began to shadow local dentists and, after a great amount of exposure to the field, I definitely knew dentistry was my calling.

    I can remember it as if it were yesterday, anxiously arriving at Rice University with my father. I was born in south Texas and for part of my childhood I lived in Mexico. Dallas is the farthest I’ve ever traveled to and, that being said, this was my first time in Houston, Texas. I was so excited to be accepted into the program. It was truly a blessing, but I honestly did not know what to expect. Two hours after my arrival, the scholars and I were sitting in a large room at Rice University, where we introduced ourselves to the other scholars and the SMDEP Administrative Team. We were later given a key to our dorms and I remember thinking, “Wow, my dream finally came true; I will finally live in a dorm!” I live with my parents back at home and attend a local university; therefore, I was never able to fully live the college experience as most of my out of town friends have. Everyone was so friendly. Right after setting up our dorms, around fifty SMDEP scholars and I walked to Rice Village and ate some frozen yogurt. Friendships were quickly built and I made friends from as far away as New York, North Carolina, Miami, and even Puerto Rico! It was amazing to finally be taken out of my comfort zone and experiencing what life is like in a large diverse city. Classes were held at both the medical and dental schools. It was a blessing to walk those halls in scrubs and actually feel like a dental student because actual dental students were in the classrooms right next to ours. I was given the opportunity to shadow oral maxillofacial surgeons, endodontists, and I even experienced rotations at the dental school’s emergency dental clinic. I will never forget my awesome organic chemistry class! Our professor was the most willing and enthusiastic instructor I’ve ever had. Everything I learned in SMDEP allowed me to greatly excel in the courses that I just took this past semester. My second favorite SMDEP class was anatomy. The lab is held at the medical school’s cadaver lab, and it was such a neat and unforgettable experience I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life. SMDEP allowed me to grow as a person, re-strengthen my knowledge in science, and realize how much I love dentistry, while also meeting really awesome people throughout the entire program.

    Becoming an SMDEP Ambassador has been greatly fulfilling. I’ve been reaching out to students on campus that are also passionate about the medical and dental fields. I’ve distributed many pamphlets and have even helped out some of my classmates with their SMDEP applications. I can’t wait for them to experience the wonderful journey that awaits them at SMDEP UT Houston!

    I am currently a junior and will spend this winter break studying for my DAT. I am involved in many organizations on campus, and in my free time I enjoy attending local community service events. With my character, determination, and past experiences that have allowed me to contribute to my community, I want to be given the opportunity to make everyone in this world smile. I plan to become a general dentist and work at the City of Laredo Health Department Dental Clinic, where I’ve been a patient for many years”.

  • Nyla VasquezNyla Vasquez – SMDEP 2014

    I am currently a junior working on a bachelor degree in Biology at Texas A&M University. I completed the Summer Medical and Dental Program during the summer of 2014 at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and currently hold a position as an SMDEP Ambassador. I’m also in the Joint Admission Medical Program and currently a committee leader for Public Relations. Furthermore, I’m also a discussion leader for an English program at Baptist Student Ministry. I actively teach the importance of nutrition towards wellness and health in my community as well. Currently an undergraduate research scholar for the Cardiovascular Chemistry Laboratory, I’ve been accepted to Texas A&M Medical School for 2016 matriculation.

    As an SMDEP Ambassador, I have been a guest speaker for organizations like the Pre-Dental Society, Pre-Med Society, and the Joint Admission Medical Program group at Texas A&M University. Here, it is where I am given the opportunity to praise SMDEP and remind me of the wonderful summer I had over and over again. I was so inspired by this program that I took initiative to inform other pre-meds about this amazing opportunity so they too can have the ever lasting memories, friends, and resources provided by the program.

  • Jesus Torres-RojasJesus Torres-Rojas – SMDEP 2014

    I am a junior at the University of Central Arkansas. I am currently majoring in Biology and minoring in Political Science. I was fortunate to come across the SMDEP program my sophomore year and without hesitation I applied. I came across it by searching the internet for summer enrichment programs. Knowledge of the SMDEP program at my university was very limited. Thus, this is why I decided to become an Ambassador for the program on my campus. I want to give others the same opportunity I was given. The six weeks at the UT SMDEP were, without a doubt, the best six weeks in my life. I decided to become an ambassador because I feel very passionate about the program and want others to have the experience and grow like I did.

    I have been working with my pre-dental adviser and the pre-dental club, as well as the pre-medical club. I have also been tabling in my university's Student Center. The response that I have had has been very positive and I look forward to hearing from them and their experience.


  • We value our scholars and hope that you will join us by becoming a SMDEP Ambassador!