Becoming a Translator for the Community: Luis Cabrera
My name is Luis Cabrera and I am currently a second-year medical student at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from the California State University, Northridge. I was the first person in my family to attend and graduate from college. I know that wouldn’t have been possible without all the sacrifices my parents have made, including leaving Guatemala and immigrating to the United States. Their sacrifice instilled in me a desire to take advantage of the opportunities available in this country and not let them go to waste. For this reason, I decided to pursue a career in medicine because I knew this field would require me to put others before myself, just like my parents put their children before themselves.
At an early age, I was exposed to the reality of healthcare inequalities in the community I resided in, which was predominantly a minority demographic. I distinctly remember many occasions where I would accompany my mom to a doctor’s appointment and I would be the one translating to Spanish what the doctor was saying in English. I felt an enormous amount of pressure trying to accurately translate all the medical terms the doctor would say because I wanted my mom to be fully aware of her medical care.
But after every encounter of this type, I felt incompetent because I could tell my mom was confused. I quickly realized that language barriers were a real thing in the healthcare field. We need physicians who speak the same languages as their patients and can personally identify with them, so that patients can be fully aware of their medical conditions and care being provided. These experiences showed me that the healthcare field was heavily underrepresented, and I was someone who could bring much needed diversity and a different perspective to this industry.
My journey to medical school had its obstacles. I took the MCAT three times and applied to medical school twice. After encountering these obstacles, I a hundred percent thought about quitting and pursuing another career. But every time I thought about what other career I could see myself in, I knew that I wouldn’t be content in it. After these failures, I knew that I could either keep feeling sorry for myself and quit, or work harder and put myself in the best position possible to be accepted into medical school.
Long story short, I was accepted into medical school in 2017 and I am thankful to God, my wife, my family, and close friends because they didn’t let me give up. Now I am in my second year of medical school and although it can be trying and stressful at times, I try not to lose sight of my end goal or take for granted this amazing opportunity. I know I have many more years to go until I become the physician I aspire to be, but day by day I am trying to learn as much as possible so that I can represent my community well. One day, I hope to provide quality, empathetic, and culturally-sensitive health care to all of my patients, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender.
My advice to anyone who is pursuing their dream career or any personal goal is to make sure you are working hard and doing everything in you power to become successful, because all the hard work WILL pay off. It might not seem like it in when moments of failure come, but trust in yourself and surround yourself with a support system who is going to you uplift you no matter what. Life obstacles are inevitable and nothing is going to be handed to you easily. So don’t let those obstacles define you or let them become excuses to quit, because they may lead you to settle for less than what you’re capable of achieving!