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Future physicians shaped by unique life experiences

Nearly 200 medical students will receive the Doctor of Medicine degree this month from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Some of them are willing to share their stories with your readers, viewers or listeners. Here are the stories we have identified. Please contact UTHSC public affairs for contact information.

•Luis Acosta — survived the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City

•James Davey — an ancestor of Davey Crockett; now doing an externship in Zambia; will be back for graduation; e-mail address available on request

•Dave Lawrence — was in the Peace Corps and did mission in Africa. Is planning another mission upon graduation.

•Nicolas Vuong — was in an orphanage from age 5. Parents still in North Vietnam. They will not be able to come see him graduate.

More information on Vuong, Lawrence and Acosta:

Nicholas (Nhat) Minh Vuong (M.D. to be conferred May 26)

At age 7 he was separated from his parents at the end of the Vietnam War, when they were trying to escape the country. His parents were captured by the Viet Cong, but his uncle and he managed to get on the leaving boat. He was placed in an orphanage for a while so that the uncle could work. He has only seen his parents twice (once in college for two weeks, and again after the first year of medical school for four weeks.) According to Nhat, the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam has denied his parents permission twice for a visitor's visa to come to graduation, stating that they did not have a strong enough reason for leaving the country and returning. Following graduation, he will pursue a transitional internship and an anesthesiology residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

David John Lawrence (MD to be conferred May 26)

Before entering medical school, he served as a volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps for two years in Cameroon, Africa, working on vaccination programs, well-baby care, health education and community health management. After graduation, he plans to return overseas to do medical/disaster relief work before doing a residency. He is working with Crisis Corps, a new government organization affiliated with the Peace Corps. He may be assigned to Crisis Corps’ largest ongoing program, an AIDS project in Kenya and Tanzania.

Luis Acosta (M.D. to be conferred May 26)

He grew up in Mexico City until age 13 and was at home there during the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Several relatives’ homes were so badly damaged that they moved in Luis and his family for several months. The infrastructure of the city was badly damaged. His father, a physician in Mexico City at the time, was actively involved in administering medical assistance to victims of the disaster.  Luis, then 10, helped his family donate clothes and household items to others in need. He says the ’85 earthquake inspired him to enter medicine. He is a graduate of Rice University. He will complete his residency in internal medicine at The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque. He is interested in international public health, and perhaps working for organizations such as Doctors Without Borders or the World Health Organization during his career. 

Contact: Will Sansom