RDF Impact: From Student to Doctor with the Heart to Mend Her Community

RDF Impact: From Student to Doctor with the Heart to Mend Her Community

At RDF, we often share our amount of financial investments and technical assistance to communities, but the true impact lies in the faces and names, the real stories behind those big numbers. It’s the people our RDF Family work so hard for and are passionate about serving. And sometimes, our impact is brought full circle with individuals like Sandra Vazquez Salas.

Sandra is a recipient of the Los Medicos Scholarship presented by the Hispanic Women’s Corporation; a UnidosUS affiliate, and an organization RDF has supported for many years. After four successful years of medical school, Sandra is now on her way to a prestigious residency at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore with plans to give back to the Hispanic community and help close the gaps in access to healthcare.

For Sandra, this scholarship didn’t simply ease her loans, it was the motivation to keep pursuing her dreams.

“It was a huge blessing. It made me realize someone else believed in me,” Sandra said. “It was surreal.”


Young Sandra Creates Her Mission

“My mom made this huge sacrifice to bring us here. After that, I knew I had to do something great with my life,” Sandra said emotionally. “I want to make my family proud.”

After an unexpected loss, Sandra’s path in healthcare was clear. Four years after she moved to the U.S., her father, who stayed in Mexico, unexpectedly passed away from a stroke caused by untreated hypertension.

“His condition could’ve been treated, but he lacked access and resources to medical care. So I decided I wanted to help others overcome those challenges,” Sandra explained.

A Journey to Make a Difference

She studied hard in high school and earned scholarships to Arizona State University to pursue her undergraduate degree. As she excelled in classes enjoying research labs, Sandra also spent time at Valley Wise Medical Center, finding her passion in hospital care as she served as a Spanish medical interpreter. In December of 2016, Sandra earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration in Forensics and was awarded Outstanding Undergraduate Speaker for the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

With high achievements come great awards. Through hard work and dedication, Sandra earned a $10,000 a year scholarship to attend medical school at the University of Arizona. Sandra graduated this month with distinctions in Community Service, Rural Health, and Medical Spanish.

Making her family proud

The scholarship funds decreased her student loans, allowing her to manage the costs of moving to Baltimore to begin her medical career.

As a resident in pathology, she looks forward to providing patients answers they need to begin necessary medical treatments. In addition, we’re sure to see her making waves in healthcare as she plans to teach future medical students and give back to Hispanic and low-income communities.

“I’ve been really blessed. I’ll miss them when I move, but I know what I’m doing will help my family and community in the long run. My dad will be proud of me,” she said.

On behalf of the RDF Family, we wish Sandra immense success!

Personally, I felt honored to meet Sandra and hear her inspiring story. These are the stories that make it all worthwhile. It’s a beautiful reminder of the impact our everyday work tasks help accomplish.

Please stay connected with us to explore more of RDF’s projects on our website and social media: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Rachel Jimenez serves in the RDF’s Communications Department as PR & Digital Content Strategist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Rachel has extensive experience supporting content marketing efforts for national and state non-profits, as well as small businesses.