My Journey From Farmworker Boy To Pediatrician

Book Excerpt from the Inspiring Story of Ramon Resa, MD:
Excerpt #13 of 17


After I move, I start getting letters from several colleges guaranteeing me full scholarships and support based on my grades, my SAT scores, and the fact that I’m a minority, but I throw them all away. I’m waiting to hear from Santa Cruz.

One day my brother Domingo brings me an envelope. It’s from Santa Cruz. I’ve been thinking that I would get a thick envelope if it was an acceptance and a thin one if they rejected me. This is a thin envelope – but when I open it, it’s a letter from Roberto, the head of the Educational Opportunity Program, congratulating me on being accepted! “You’ll be getting the official letter shortly,” he writes, “but I couldn’t wait to let you know because I knew how anxious you were.”

“Domingo,” I say quietly, “I’m going to Santa Cruz.”

“I knew you’d do it!” he grins. “You’re smart and you don’t belong here. You’re going to make something of yourself. I’m sure of it!”

I feel like crying. I’ve waited for this moment all my life, but in typical fashion I keep my emotions bottled up out of fear or doubt that there’s been some mistake.

To this day, I don’t know how my life would have turned out if Mr. Nagel hadn’t offered me that apartment and job. I rarely talked to him except in class, and why he went so far out of his way, I don’t know. He gave me my freedom. He was the right person at the right time. I’m lucky to have had people I didn’t even know well come to my assistance.

A few weeks later, Debbie and I go to an outdoor reception on campus. A lot of the professors and advisers are present, and many students are taking advantage of the opportunity to seek career guidance. When I see that my advisor is free, I approach him with Debbie at my side.

“I’ve decided to change to pre-med and try for medical school,” I tell him. “How do I go about doing this?”

“I think you should remain a psych major,” he replies. “Pre-med is too difficult. And your people need psychologists as much as doctors.”

I can tell he doesn’t remember who I am from the few sessions we’ve had. And he doesn’t have my records with him, so why he says I’m not qualified is beyond me. And Debbie is shocked by his comments because we’ve just heard him encouraging some Anglo students to think about going into medicine. He even told them that Santa Cruz had a great record of getting students into medical school. When we leave, I’m feeling dejected and Debbie is extremely upset. She has realized for almost the first time that racism still exists.

As my old and new friends progress through our first year, we become more Chicano. My long hair and red bandanna symbolize my emerging involvement. The Chicano movement is getting stronger, and we get more and more involved. César Chávez comes to Santa Cruz often to recruit and encourage us to fight for equal rights for farmworkers.

Debbie joins us when we walk picket lines at Safeway. I think that some of the white students are there because it’s fashionable to be on the side of the downtrodden, but I know she believes in our cause.

Click Here To Read More Book Excerpts