Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) third-year student Delia Rios advocates for those without a voice, the childhood role she assumed serving as a translator for immigrant parents who didn’t have access to healthcare. Though many devalued her physician ambitions, Delia turned the negatives into steppingstones for her upward climb.
“Unfortunately, my parents’ economic status wouldn’t allow them to get a higher education so they worked hard and supported my brother and I to ensure we became their American dream and I am not going to let them down,” said the 2021 Empower scholarship winner. “All throughout high school, I was told that only the children whose parents went to college would become doctors. My parents came here with nothing and built their own empire. And now, thanks to them, I will be a first-generation, Hispanic-American physician,” which accounts for less than 6% of the practicing physicians in the US according to 2018 data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Connecting with physicians at a young age ignited Delia’s passion in medicine, further fueled by her family’s reliance on free health clinics in their Virginia hometown. “I realized that access isn’t the same for those who live in poor areas,” she learned after her family obtained medical insurance. “It’s not ok that it’s so one-sided. I want to one day be able to provide care for patients who need it the most, in predominantly underserved areas.”
Always Give Back
Delia’s drive to create equality continued at RUSM where she served as the Student Government Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Chair. “People can speak up, but it doesn’t mean anyone is listening. I needed to fight for Hispanic people, women, other races and community members who might be suffering. I have to continue to pay forward the opportunities that have been given to me.”
While working as a transplant coordinator before medical school, Delia witnessed genuine compassion between healthcare workers and families, which solidified her goal. “I want to support families going through traumatic situations. Different ethnicities react differently — some scream, cry, laugh or show no emotion, and they need someone by their side.”
The current Floridian loves to travel and advises others to never give up, a mantra she follows along her medical journey. “I am living proof you can open doors people say are closed. Every experience at Ross University has taught me that you have to keep strong and fight for what you believe in. You will find a way to persevere. I’m not a hero; Ross University gave me a chance and I took it. I’m going to reach my dreams because someone believed in me. That’s all you need.”
To begin your medical journey, visit RUSM.
Applications for the Empower Scholarship Fund 2021 Fall Award Cycle are being accepted now through October 24. Visit https://empower.awardspring.com/ to apply now.