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Emily Medrano

January 6, 2016//

Meet Emily Medrano. She's so passionate about Zumba, she would get a degree in it if she could.

Zumba is fun, it's exciting and it helps you relieve stress. I make sure to motivate those who take my class and appreciate them for taking time out of the day for their health.

– EmilyMedrano

The spunky freshman psychology major is a fitness instructor for Campus Recreation and teaches Zumba at the UTSA Downtown Campus. It's one of the more popular group fitness classes currently offered at the campus.

Her enthusiasm is contagious.

"Zumba is fun, it's exciting and it helps you relieve stress. I make sure to motivate those who take my class and appreciate them for taking time out of the day for their health," she said.

Health played a key part in leading Medrano to Zumba. In high school, Medrano was overweight, and she knew she had to do something about it. One of her aunts was a Zumba instructor and encouraged her to try it out. Almost immediately, Medrano started losing weight, enjoying life more and gaining more confidence.

By age 15, Medrano was certified to teach Zumba and on her way to helping others like her change their lives by becoming healthy.

Not long after that, Medrano faced an unexpected medical challenge. She started having stomach pains that became increasingly worse. Her doctors couldn't figure out the cause of the problem. One day, the pain was so excruciating that she went to the emergency room and ended up needing immediate surgery. Her intestines had become infected and were rupturing. If she hadn't been operated on, the doctors said she likely would have died.

It took Medrano nearly a year to recover, and all that time she couldn't exercise or teach Zumba. In fact, she was homebound for seven months. As a result, she struggled with depression and anxiety about keeping up with her schoolwork.

It was her mother who helped her strive toward full recovery, resigning from her job as a kindergarten teacher to devote herself to her daughter's recovery.

"Even though I knew she was worried about me, my mom was strong and never cried in front of me. She was always positive and encouraged me when I was feeling down," recalls Medrano.

In the end, the experience helped her realize how precious life is and that she has an important mission to fulfill in helping others become healthy, including her own mother.

It also motivated her to choose a degree that will allow her to have a career helping high school students experiencing emotional issues.

Then and now, Medrano finds inspiration in this quote by Christopher Reeve:

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."

Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at social@utsa.edu so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.

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