For many, socioeconomic status or minority classification has historically been a barrier to career fields viewed as highly technical. Today, there are specific scholarship opportunities, known as underrepresented minority (URM) scholarship programs, that focus on making the law and medical fields more accessible to historically underrepresented groups.
These scholarships are extremely competitive and only accept students who reflect excellence in both their academic and clinical work. For Moises Plasencia, earning two URM scholarships was no small feat.
In August, Plasencia will start his first scholarship rotation through Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. This rotation in plastic and reconstructive surgery is where Plasencia sees his career path taking him.
“My current career goal is to become a plastic surgeon,” said Plasencia. “Hopefully, through an integrated residency or fellowship.”
After his rotation with Harvard, Plasencia will travel to Pennsylvania, where he will complete his second URM scholarship rotation in hepatobiliary surgery with the University of Pennsylvania.
“These scholarships are highly sought after by students from Harvard, UPENN and around the world,” Plasencia said. “I am humbled to have been awarded these scholarships, and I look forward to learning everything I can.”
The son of Mexican immigrants, Plasencia grew up in Houston, Texas, where he first aspired to be a mechanic while working in his father’s auto shop at a young age. After graduating high school, he attended community college for auto repair, and eventually went on to graduate from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s in human nutrition. Shortly thereafter, he matched to the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine with the goal of becoming a primary care physician.
It wasn’t until his third year of medical school that Plasencia set his sights on surgery. Whether he ends up in general or plastic surgery, he says these rotations will afford him valuable skills and experiences he’ll be able to carry for the rest of his career.
“I plan to learn and retain as much knowledge as possible at these rotations,” Plasencia said. “I would like to continue to be involved in the community, helping aspiring individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds make their dreams come true.”