Jazmin Villavicencio knew that she wanted to study the brain and perhaps become a surgeon after a childhood dominated by epilepsy. As college approached, she learned about the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP). Lured by its free tuition and focus on minority students, Villavicencio submitted an application and was accepted.
She joined the SMDEP cohort in 2007 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in Omaha. Now, she is a junior at the University of Arizona, pursuing her studies to become a doctor and acquire a master’s degree in public health. The personal rewards linger even after the program ends. Villavicencio remains in contact with her dormitory roommate and other classmates, though she completed the program two years ago.