Alexander Fuentes is on his way to becoming a doctor serving the culturally diverse needs of Los Angeles. “I’ve always been driven to serve others,” said the senior health and human sciences major. “It’s something that I find value in, regardless of my job title.”
Throughout his years at LMU, Fuentes was a member of the Creare service organization where he served as vice president of spirituality as a sophomore and junior. Through the organization, he volunteered as a piano teacher and helped start the music program at Ascension Catholic School, an elementary and middle school in South Los Angeles.
He also volunteered in the emergency room at Marina Del Rey Hospital, where he was immersed in medical terminology and gained a genuine appreciation for the work done by nurses and nurse practitioners.
Last summer, during Fuentes’ internship at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center, the director of performance improvement took Fuentes under his wing. Through assessments of real Kaiser projects, Fuentes learned the importance of project ownership and accountability to sustain lasting change in an organization. He believes his summer internship in health care administration will help him embrace change when he becomes a doctor.
Kaiser’s integrated system left a lasting impression on Fuentes. “The physicians that actually see you aren’t dealing with the back end, so they can focus on doctor-patient relationships instead,” he said. “Listening to the doctors interact with their patients just underscored that that’s what I see myself doing, and that’s why I want to become a doctor.”
Fuentes’ coursework as a health and human sciences major gave him the foundation he needed to apply to medical school, while his experiences in biology and chemistry classes exposed him to the minutia of the science behind his field of study.
“As a freshman, I thought I was going to major in biology,” Fuentes recalled. His experience in Seaver’s Life Science Early Awareness Program (LEAP) – a living learning community for first-year Seaver students interested in the life sciences – helped steer him towards health and human sciences. “I realized I wanted to focus on the human body.”
Getting through his course requirements, Fuentes saw his education come full circle. “When we studied plants in freshman biology, I remember wondering ‘why do I need to study this?’ Then I went through all of my classes as a HHSC major, and we ended up going back to those plants. Suddenly, I knew why it was important.”
As Fuentes prepares to say goodbye to LMU and apply to medical schools, he’ll take with him advice from mentor Todd Shoepe, assistant professor of health and human sciences. “He said to just do something, because there won’t be an experience that you have that will not be important to you. The worst thing that recent graduates can do is to hesitate.”