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Connecting her passion with her future

Student of the Week: Sydney Loya

“I think higher education is important because someday you’ll be able to give back to your community. I love my hometown; it’s been a huge part of my life. Once I become a doctor, I plan to give back to the community I love.”

STC Student of the Week Sydney Loya

South Texas College Dual Credit student Sydney Loya said with the encouragement of her family, who instilled in her the value of hard work and determination, and the connections she has made at STC, she is one step closer to achieving her goal of entering medical school and becoming a dermatologist.

Loya, a senior at South Texas High School for Health Professions, recently earned an associate degree in Biology during STC’s spring 2023 commencement ceremonies through the Dual Enrollment Medical Science Academy (DEMSA) Program at the Mid-Valley campus.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I knew the medical field was going to be the path for me to take,” Loya said. “I grew up with my family being in the medical field and that’s what sparked my interest. That's why I followed my parents’ footsteps and went to Med High (South Texas High School for Health Professions). It was there that I found out about the Medical Science Academy.”

DEMSA is a two-year dual enrollment program developed for high school juniors and seniors from Hidalgo and Starr counties who are seriously interested in pursuing a career in health care.

The Mercedes native said she is proud to be a member of the inaugural class of Med High students to participate in the DEMSA program.

“It wasn’t offered at my high school until recently, so I feel lucky to have been one of the eight students who joined the program,” Loya said. “It doesn’t even feel like it has been two years, it went by in the blink of an eye. When I started DEMSA, I didn’t know any of my classmates, and now we get along great because we shared this experience.”

Along with taking three to four college courses a semester, DEMSA students also participate in year-round seminars, volunteer opportunities and field trips to health science institutions in and out of the Rio Grande Valley.

"You take all the classes and labs that you need for your associate degree, but you also get to do extra activities,” Loya said. “For example, during my junior year I became Student Leadership Certified by STC through workshops.”

Loya will attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biology before pursuing medical school. Loya said participating in DEMSA also enabled her to connect with mentors who pushed her farther than she ever imagined.

“I had the opportunity to meet faculty in the (UTRGV) biology department and will actually be assisting in research with one of the professors this fall,” Loya said. “I met the department faculty through STC.”

Although Loya has thrived academically at both STC and South Texas High School for Health Professions, she also managed to dedicate hours of her day to agriculture science. Loya has been a member of the Queen City 4-H Club in Mercedes since she was 8 years old, where she raised multiple breeds of animals and monitored their health and well-being.

“4-H has been my entire life for the last 10 years,” Loya said. “I would attend Med High in the morning and my STC classes were held in the afternoon until 5 p.m. Then I would go take care of my animals and would sometimes stay there until 10 p.m. I was tired, but I wouldn't have trade it for anything in the world. It formed me into the young woman I am today. I learned hard work, dedication, patience, sportsmanship and the importance of community.”

This year Loya served as president of the Queen City 4-H and was its representative for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show. She was also crowned Miss Teen South Texas Farm Fest 2023.

Loya said her participation in 4-H has also provided her with skills that she can carry with her throughout higher education.

“I have learned to be patient with every animal that I have raised, making them a priority,” Loya said. “Many of the things I learned in 4-H like injecting my animals, artificially inseminating my animals for breeding and learning how to judge genetics are skills I believe I will take and put into my future profession. I care for them in a similar way that I will care for my future patients. It started with 4-H.”

Loya said she has always had big dreams and is grateful to STC and her community for helping her build a foundation to reach her goals.

“I would tell potential students that being part of DEMSA is so worth it,” Loya said. “You get to experience a college environment that will help you get ahead and you meet so many people. I think higher education is important because someday you’ll be able to give back to your community. I love my hometown; it’s been a huge part of my life. Once I become a doctor, I plan to give back to the community I love.”