Jose Cruz, DO, MPH, is a newly minted physician who helps young people become doctors in spite of major challenges.
Partly because of this work, he's among 74 students to receive the Excellence in Public Health Award from the United States Public Health Corps.
Dr. Cruz is a 2014 graduate of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine's Rural Medicine program with a dual master's degree in public health. He's serving his residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma at Tulsa School of Community Medicine.
He volunteers with Tour for Diversity in Medicine, a grassroots effort to cultivate future minority physicians. He's traveled to 10 states, advising disadvantaged high school and college students about how and where to apply to medical school, and how to handle personal challenges while excelling in a demanding educational environment.
"One student I'm mentoring dealt with the suicide of one parent and major illness of the other, while he served as the primary income source for the family," Dr. Cruz said. "While in high school, he lived in his brother's dorm room, and while in college he dealt with problems regarding his tuition. He is a huge success story and is now a first-year medical student."
Touring the Northeast, he met a student from Texas who was actively involved in college and research. "But like so many minorities, she had a sub-par MCAT score," Dr. Cruz said. He reviewed her essay and provided advice, and eventually she entered medical school.
"Many students ask about where to apply to medical school, and I encourage them to look into TCOM," he said.
"TCOM gives students the opportunity to become involved in the community. Many faculty members are supportive of any initiatives that are meaningful not only to the student body, but also to the community as a whole."
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