FIU leads in Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin medical school applicants

The Association of American Medical Colleges has recognized FIU as the top university in the nation to supply Hispanic, Latino or Spanish-origin applicants to U.S. medical schools in the 2020-21 academic year.

Carlos Sandoval

Carlos Sandoval is one of 270 total applicants from FIU.

The FIU alumnus received multiple acceptances, including one to New York University with a Dean’s Scholarship – covering the full cost of attendance.

Sandoval dreams of becoming an academic surgeon. He wants to be more than a doctor that sees patients. He wants to push the boundaries of medicine.

“There is still so much we don’t know and so much we can improve on,” Sandoval said. “I want to promote a more diverse health care.”

Sandoval came to the United States from Barranquilla, Colombia, when he was six. The move was difficult for Sandoval. He didn’t speak English so he couldn’t understand anyone around him when he walked down the street.

When he started school in the states, he was placed in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). After the third grading period, they took him out of ESOL and put him in regular classes.

That little boy grew up to become the first person in his family to attend college.

Being a first-generation college student came with challenges. Sandoval didn’t have someone to ask questions to about what to expect in college or how to become a doctor. During his first semester, Sandoval visited FIU’s Office of Pre-Health Advising and met with coordinator Gregory Thomas.

Thomas suggested Sandoval get involved in things outside of school for more experiences and to truly decide if being a doctor was what he wanted to do. Sandoval volunteered at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and joined the Office of Pre-Health Advising as a peer advisor. He guided students, began his own MCAT tutoring office hours and offered free weekly MCAT tests.

Before graduation, Sandoval took part in a mock interview. Joseph Lichter, Office of Pre-Health Advising director, helped Sandoval strengthen how he responded to questions and presented himself.

He applied to 21 schools and was invited to 12 interviews. After meeting with 10 schools, Sandoval was accepted into NYU, FIU, University of Central Florida and the University of Southern Florida.

In total, 213 of the 270 FIU students who applied to medical school last year were Hispanic, Latino or of Spanish-origin.

“FIU is helping the country diversify medical school professionals,” Lichter said. “That’s going to transfer into leading professionals coming from our institution in the coming years.”