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.
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The community is invited to the inauguration of UTSA President Taylor Eighmy, the sixth president of UTSA.Convocation Center, Main Campus
The Provost's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council hosts this forum to share and further explain the results of the survey and to offer the opportunity for faculty and staff to provide feedback.Durango Building La Villita Room (DB 1.116), Downtown Campus
For more than 20 years, Josie Méndez-Negrete, a UTSA associate professor in Mexican American Studies, has endured the emotional journey of watching her son, Tito, struggle with schizophrenia. Her powerful account is the first memoir by a Mexican American author to share the devastation and hope a family experiences in dealing with this mental illness.H-E-B Student Union Travis Room (HSU 2.212), Main Campus
Graduate and undergraduate student researchers pursuing majors in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts will present their original work.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
The UTSA community is invited to this town hall meeting to learn more about progress of the Student Success Presidential initiative.Frio Street Building (FS 1.512), Downtown Campus
Author Annette Angela Portillo will read her book, which examines Native American women’s autobiographical discourses and multiple-voiced life stories that resist generic conventional notions of first-person narrative.McKinney Humanities Building (MH 3.02.24), Main Campus
Chelsea Wentworth, anthropology professor at High Point University, will discuss women’s roles in changing customary feasting patterns so that feasts can serve as a coping mechanism for children’s food insecurity in urban areas the South Pacific Island nation, Vanuatu.H-E-B Student Union Travis Room (HSU 2.202), Main Campus
The UTSA community is invited to come together and volunteer at various San Antonio nonprofits.Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus