After years of preparation and long hours studying, students at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine are on their way to becoming doctors.
Every year on Match Day, medical students across the U.S. anxiously open envelopes to learn the name of the institution where they will start the next chapter of their careers. Students are matched with a residency program to begin training in their specialties.
Loyola student David Mata is planning to pursue family medicine.
“I’m very passionate about serving the underserved,” Mata said. “I love everything — so working with kids, expecting mothers… . Family medicine is the place to be.”
Mata is one of five students who studied at the Stritch School of Medicine as a DACA recipient. DACA is a policy in which children of undocumented immigrants are temporarily protected from deportation.
Stritch professor Mark Kuczewski said 50 DACA students, also known as “Dreamers,” have gone through the medical school since 2014.
“We do not have a physician workforce that has a diversity we need to properly serve the patient population here in the United States,” Kuczewski said, “so when we heard of this qualified group of applicants, who are bilingual, bicultural, had this resilience — they kept going when people told them they couldn’t do it because they weren’t citizens. That’s the kind of thing that makes them a great doctor.”
Match Day is a career-defining moment.
Sumbul Siddiqui is also a “Dreamer” who matched with her first choice, the University of Chicago, to study family medicine. It’s a full-circle moment for the medical student, whose family migrated to the U.S. from Pakistan when she was a little girl.
“It was hard for me to get health care for my parents,” Siddiqui said. “It ultimately started with my own challenges and then volunteering at health clinics, and then I realized there were other families like mine, and it wasn’t the only one. And I thought maybe through medicine I can also help my community.”
Siddiqui said she is determined to give back to those who’ve struggled like her family.
“The medical field can often be distrusting,” Siddiqui said, “and people don’t know if they can trust their doctors. And I think when you see people who look like you, there’s an instant connection and trust there in thinking they might get you.”
Mata and Siddiqui are among 165 Loyola students on their next step to becoming doctors.
“Never say, ‘No, that’s impossible,’” Siddiqui said. “You can do it. Find your people. They are there, and they will help you. Believe in your dreams.”
Now an American citizen, Mata hopes to one day help people along the border.