When opportunity meets discipline
Student of the Week: Felix Tamayo
“I feel like it (DEMSA) was a gift. Not many people get these opportunities. I know my parents weren't able to get these opportunities, so I'm trying to take full advantage.”
For Felix Tamayo, a childhood experience sparked his ambition to become a doctor. Today, his dedication to a hometown opportunity has launched his career path in health care.
Tamayo graduated from Roma High School this past May. He simultaneously earned an associate degree in biology from South Texas College (STC) through the Dual Enrollment Medical Science Academy (DEMSA).
DEMSA is a two-year dual enrollment program developed for high school juniors and seniors who are interested in entering the health care profession. The program provides college course-work and health-related opportunities in fields like medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and allied health.
Tamayo participated in the Starr County Campus program. Being from Roma, he wanted to take advantage of the chance to earn a degree close to home.
“My academic counselor at STC was also from Roma, and she helped me immensely,” Tamayo said. “Everyone was super helpful and guided me toward what I wanted to be. DEMSA was the hardest program I've ever done. I had to give my full attention to it, and be super disciplined about what I was doing. I had to discipline myself to wake up every day and keep going.”
Tamayo will now study biology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley this fall. He aspires to apply to medical school and become a general surgeon.
“I feel like it (DEMSA) was a gift,” Tamayo said. “Not many people get these opportunities. I know my parents weren't able to get these opportunities, so I'm trying to take full advantage.”
Tamayo shared the memory that inspired him to pick this career path.
“Earlier in my life, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer, and she was in and out of hospitals in different cities and seeing different doctors,” Tamayo said. “That caused me to look at the effect hospitals and doctors can have in a person’s life. I feel like it sounds cliché if I say, ‘I want to save people’s lives,’ but it truly is amazing to be able to help someone. That is a true ambition that I have.”
Along with his high school coursework and college classes, Tamayo was also enrolled in a patient care technician program. He found himself learning how to better balance his time. When COVID-19 restrictions were implemented, Tamayo unexpectedly needed to learn how to adapt to online courses.
“All of a sudden you go from never taking a college class before to taking four classes,” Tamayo said. “And these were advanced classes in subjects like bio, chemistry and college algebra. We were taking them all at the same time, which was pretty challenging. Especially since we were the ones that started during COVID. But I feel like, when you ask for help, you'll get help.”
Tamayo said he won’t forget his Roma roots or the community support he has received through DEMSA.
“I feel like in the future, I would like to come back and see where my people are at,” Tamayo said. “And if I can help in any way, then, yes, I would definitely help.”
The aspiring doctor shared some advice to future health care students about self-motivation.
“Be determined and be disciplined,” Tamayo said. “Learn how to manage yourself and manage time. Don't try to find motivation all the time, but instead try to find discipline. Try to find a code of conduct for yourself.”