Commencement Spotlight: Rolando Garza wants to make an impact with medical research
(Dec. 5, 2016) -- Meet Rolando Garza. He’s planning to use his UTSA degree to switch from fixing diesel trucks to fixing people.
Garza, a Uvalde, Texas native, first became fascinated with how things work while spending time at his family’s trucking business. As a teenager, he became certified to do maintenance on big trucks to help out with the family business, but was still determined to earn a college degree.
“I had cousins who were already enrolled at UTSA, and they always talked about what a great experience they had,” he said. “When I came to visit, I found that it was the only school I toured that felt like I belonged.”
When Garza’s UTSA classes began, he at first felt overwhelmed by the course load, but was relieved to find that his professors and fellow students were able to answer questions and help him to succeed.
“I really quickly fell in love with science,” he said. “I became especially fascinated by immunology in one of my biology courses. I had to do a lot of work to keep up because I had so much to learn, but I loved it.”
A member of UTSA's Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, he signed up to work in the laboratory of Astrid Cardona, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and began aiding her research in how diabetes can effect the retina and the brain.
“The project really drew me in,” he said. “When I was a child, I was obese and pre-diabetic, and I had to make a major lifestyle change. Seeing that diabetes is preventable and affects so many people made me want to get involved in this research and help people.”
Garza soon began pondering going to medical school or pursuing similar research. He credits Cardona and other faculty members with helping him to make the decision to pursue a career in research as a graduate student.
“All of my professors were really accessible,” he said. “If I had any questions about my career or where I wanted to go in life, they’d always give me advice and tell me about their experiences.”
He’s now set to graduate from UTSA in December, and will pursue post-baccalaureate work at the University of Pennsylvania in the new year.
“Working in a lab really changed my perspective from wanting to help patients to wanting to further the field of knowledge,” Garza said. “A physician can only look at so many patients a day, but if you develop a new therapy or a new drug then you can have a much wider impact.”
View more commencement spotlights at the UTSA Commencement website.
Do you know a Roadrunner who is graduating in May 2017? Share that story with us at email@example.com.
Orientation marks a major step toward becoming a Roadrunner. It is a unique experience designed to welcome freshmen and transfers to UTSA and ensure a successful transition into college. They will learn about UTSA, prepare for their first semester and have fun meeting other students. There is also a special Family Orientation program too.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The sympoisum will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, will educate the wider research community about advancements in this fast-paced field and stimulate collaborative research in this area. Register online for this free event.H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
The institute this year will focus on being lifelong growers and continually seeking to increase our skills as educators. Sessions will align with daily themes designed to support the lifelong development of educators. The institute is free for everyone.Frio Street Building, Downtown Campus
Annual Enrollment is the period when you may change your benefit elections. The period is July 15 to July 31, 2017. HR Benefits Office will host its Benefits Fair and presentations on July 12 at all three campuses.Business Building, University Room (BB 2.06.04), Main Campus
Annual Enrollment is the period when you may change your benefit elections. The period is July 15 to July 31, 2017. HR Benefits Office will host its Benefits Fair and presentations on July 12 at all three campuses.Frio Building, Riklin Auditorium (FS 1.406), Downtown Campus
Annual Enrollment is the period when you may change your benefit elections. The period is July 15 to July 31, 2017. HR Benefits Office will host its Benefits Fair and presentations on July 12 at all three campuses.Institute of Texan Cultures, Connally Room (ITC 3.01.02), Hemisfair Campus