15:12 PM

Biology Graduate Weighs Medical School Offers

Astrid Guevara speaks from a podium.It’s impossible to not be impressed by the warm, personable, highly motivated Astrid Guevara. Having entered UST at the early age of 16, the Biology student, now 20 and set to graduate in May, has already been accepted to multiple medical schools.

Her strong fascination for science and research got a big shot in the arm during a 2016 internship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Working in a cancer biology lab, Guevara learned how to culture cells and conduct protein analysis. There, she proposed her own project around the growth of melanoma.

Guevara said, “I took human melanoma cells and removed a specific protein that was thought to contribute to metastasis. And I was able to observe that the removal of the protein resulted in less of the factors indicating cancer growth. The head of the lab was excited.”

While the protein had previously been implicated in other types of cancer, the connection to melanoma had not been observed.

Building on Accomplishments

The following two summers, Guevara received a highly competitive internship at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She shadowed physicians, took medical classes and participated in research into treating nerve damage using plastic surgery. The research was later published.

Pittsburgh and Baylor are two of the institutions where she has been accepted into medical school.

Guevara acknowledges outstanding preparation at UST saying, “My St. Thomas professors have been critical to my success. Their accessibility, kindness and expert guidance meant everything.”

Applying the Past to the Future

Her future looks very bright, but her success story could have been interrupted at various points along the way.

Long before she got to where she is, the El Salvador-born student started off with adjusting to a new country. Furthermore, she successfully battled a serious skin disease and witnessed her mother’s development of painful rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

She said, “I can see myself working in dermatology. Or, seeing the effect RA has on my mother, it would be great to go into that field and make improvements.”

Not daunted by hard work, Guevara is an honors student who, even in middle and high school, took on extra academic loads.

When asked about what drives this remarkable achiever, she replied, “I’m driven by the belief that somewhere along the way I’ll be able to make a difference. UST leads students to be their best selves. I hope to live that out at whichever institution I choose to attend.”

Guevara is one of 855 St. Thomas students who will receive undergraduate or graduate degrees in May.