EDINBURG, Texas – Dr. Manish Singh, CEO of DHR Health, said he was thrilled to participate in his favorite healthcare event of the year.

The event saw around 200 high school students from across the Rio Grande Valley receive internship certificates from DHR Health Institute for Research and Development and Region One Education Service Center. 

The graduation ceremony for the 2nd Annual Junior Clinical Research Internship Program took place at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. 

“Today was all about the future. The future of healthcare and the future of success and development and innovation in the Valley,” Singh told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, at the conclusion of the event.

“What your saw today are tomorrow’s healthcare professionals. They will come back and make the Valley the best place to live in the world.”

Singh said the internship program was hatched by Region One Education Service Center and DHR Health Institute for Research and Development last year. 

“Last year we had 19 students participating. This year there was 200. Next year we are looking already at 400-plus.”

Asked how difficult it is to handle such a large number of students, Singh said: “We divide them into small groups and bring them in all through the summer. The most important thing is the enthusiasm of the teachers.”

Asked how moving the graduation ceremony was, Singh said: “When I was up on the stage, I was just learning so much. When the four students spoke and told their stories, they spoke out of their heart. I could see everyone who was sitting down in the audience with their certificates in their hand. I could see a future neurosurgeon, I could see a future doctor, a future CEO. They will take care of us when we will grow old.”

Asked for any wrap-up remarks, Singh said: “This is the most heartwarming and the most humbling and most fulfilling event I have attended all year. Today I am going back home with the biggest smile on my face because I saw the future.”

The Junior Clinical Research Internship Program is staged over four sessions, with 50 students participating in each session.

Dr. Sohail Rao is president and CEO of DHR Health Institute for Research & Development. Dr. Rao said the program focuses on the importance of lifelong learning and encourages students to prioritize critical thinking and to pursue careers in health care. 

Students were mentored by DHR Health doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators and the team at DHR Health Institute for Research & Development, who educated them about all career paths. We hope continuing this program will inspire more students across the Rio Grande Valley to find their passion in medicine and clinical research.

One of the students to speak from the stage was Camila Urquizo, a junior at Mission High School. Interviewed by the Guardian after the event, Urquizo said: 

“My GearUp counselor called me into her office and said, we have this program, we think you will be great for it. I immediately said yes because I have been interested in healthcare for a while. But, like I mentioned in my speech earlier, there have not been many opportunities like this, ever. So, I was super excited.”

Urquizo continued: “This was a life changing experience. We learned so much from so many wonderful and knowledgeable people. They changed my perspective on healthcare as a whole on its impact on my community and how healthcare can change things for the better. I feel like I am more prepared for the future now. It was just amazing.”

Urquizo said she has now settled on her career path. And, she said, that career will be forged in the Valley. 

“We have got such a wonderful community and yet we have so many problems. There is a lot of room for improvement and I think that our community, we all have the power to make a change. But, we each have to know about it. We must all work together to keep our community as wonderful and beautiful as it is.

“Before this I was in the mindset of, I want to go to New York, I want to go to Houston, I want to live there. But this program has made me realize how wonderful it is down here. This is home. The Valley will always be home.”

Asked what lessons she has learned from the program, Urquizo said: “Believe in yourself. This has taught me I have the potential to go into medicine no matter how hard it is. If I want it I have to go for it.”

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