Blanca Morales always knew she wanted to be a doctor; she just didn’t know how it’d be possible. Coming from Mexico to the United States as a 5-year-old, Blanca knew her undocumented status stood in the way of her achieving her dreams, and yet, she never allowed herself to give up.
With a stream of constant support from her family, Blanca rose through the ranks and became the valedictorian at Santa Ana High School. Her status made her ineligible for federal student loans, but undeterred, Morales attended Santa Ana College to study biology before moving on to the University of California, Irvine. In 2008, she graduated with honors with a degree in biological sciences. With President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) still four years away, her career appeared to be at a standstill. “You struggle so much to get your degree, to go through your education, but what happens after that, how can you use your education?” Blanca told ABC7.
While her pre-med degree couldn’t land her a job in the medical field because of her status, she took matters in her own hands and joined Health Scholars Program – an organization that fosters interest in health care through community service, clinical exposure, and academic research. There, just like in school, she excelled. “She epitomizes the Health Scholars program,” said Dr. Marco Angulo. “And it’s so personal to her, you can tell.”
Because of the introduction of DACA in 2012, Blanca became eligible for a two-year work permit, and it put her back on track to pursuing her career in medicine. On March 5, like proud parents, Health Scholars announced that the young student is headed to Harvard Medical School and that she earned a full ride to the ivy league. “We are so proud to announce this wonderful news!” the Facebook page reads. “Blanca is the co-creator of our health scholars weight management groups at our UCI Family Health Center and has dedicated her life to serving the underserved. She is the first Health Scholar DACA student to be admitted to medical school.”
With help from her husband, Blanca is applying for a green card. But regardless of her immigration status, she’s set on becoming a doctor and coming back to help her Santa Ana community.