28-year-old Eduardo Cruz-Aragon is a Mexican American student born and raised in Merced, CA. He is a first-generation student and the youngest of two.
Eduardo’s parents migrated to the United States in pursuit of a better future for their family. Growing up, his parents worked long hours in the Central Valley’s crop fields to make ends meet.
At the age of 15 during school summer vacation, Eduardo worked alongside his parents picking tomato to help support their family. Even though Eduardos parents did not obtain a higher education, they always stressed the importance of his education and as soon as school started back up again they’d send him back to school.
Growing up, Eduardo was not very fond of his academics. There came a time where he contemplated dropping out of high school and working full-time alongside his parents.
Eduardo’s parents knew he was capable of doing much more than fieldwork, they encouraged him to complete his high school education. With a lot of work and resilience, Eduardo graduated high school with a 2.3 GPA.
After graduating high school, he decided to register for classes at Merced College in hopes of obtaining an associate degree. One day, he decided he was going to take a chemistry course as part of his general education. With reservation, he attended his first class and the rest was history.
Out of all subjects Eduardo had taken throughout his life, chemistry was the one that held his interest. Eduardo decided to take on his newfound interest and roll with it. After a couple of years at Merced College and many science classes later, Eduardo transferred to UC Merced.
During his time at UC Merced, Eduardo joined the optometry club, reached out to local clinics in his community, and got involved with volunteer services. After three years, Eduardo graduated from U.C. Merced with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and was admitted to Western University of Health Sciences where he is currently in his second year of medical school.
“Being a first-generation student and the first in the family to pursue a doctorate degree has not been easy but has been very rewarding, Merced has a shortage of doctors and physicians, several Merced residents choose to pursue a doctorate degree but only a very few come back to give back to our community”, Eduardo said.
Upon graduating, Eduardo plans to return to the Central Valley and advocate for minority students who were once like him wishing to pursue a degree in the medical field but having minimal resources and role models to look up to.
Eduardo is a strong advocate in giving back to the community that helped reform his view on education. He is sharing his story today to provide words of encouragement to students who might need them and to remind everyone that the only limits that exist are those we set upon ourselves.