Cuban Native and Florida National University Grad Accepted to Penn State Med School

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Cuban Immigrant Realizes Her Dreams as Future MD in the United States

Luisa Maria De Souza

"There is something special about being an immigrant that drives you. The fact that you didn’t have certain things in your childhood, all of a sudden you’re given the opportunity to study, to excel in your career." ~ Luisa Maria De Souza

Twenty-four-year-old Cuban native, Luisa Maria De Souza will be graduating from Florida National University’s (FNU) MBA program specializing in Health Services Administration this Spring. After graduation, she will attend Penn State Medical School.

De Souza emigrated from Cuba to the United States at the age of 12. This particular turn of events in her life was the catalyst. It is something that she feels is unique to the experience of someone who travels to another country to start their life.

“There is something special about being an immigrant that drives you." De Souza said." The fact that you didn’t have certain things in your childhood, all of a sudden you’re given the opportunity to study, to excel in your career. You really don’t take it for granted because you know what it is not to have those things. In Cuba, the word ‘opportunity’ is very confined, very closed in, very narrow minded. In the United States, I feel that the amount of work you put in is directly proportionate to your success.”

The opportunities that the United States provided caused her to thrive.

“Once I arrived to the United States, I entered Mater Academy where I completed my middle and high school years. I graduated valedictorian of my class in 2009, and I received a full ride scholarship to St. Thomas University.”

This young scholar continued to excel through her college years. During her time in undergraduate studies she attained a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a Minor in Philosophy, and a research specialization. After her undergraduate, De Souza applied to medical schools and prepared for her examinations. Ambitiously, she also worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture for MARS® (the chocolate company) doing research with cacao. She decided that she wished to understand the business end of the medical world to give her application that “extra kick,” as she says. This led her to Florida National University (FNU).

“I really wanted to prove to the admissions committee that although I’m a young applicant, I had the maturity to enter the medical field." De Souza said. "I really felt that a Master’s degree would help me achieve that. Medicine is also no longer just about treating patients. It has built into a field where you have to know the business and legal aspect as well to best help your patient. You have to know if your patients can afford their medication, if they have insurance. Florida National University has not only given me the background knowledge to go into the medical field already knowing the inner workings of the medical field, but it gave me the flexibility that I needed to get where I needed to in life.”

When asked more about the flexibility of the university, De Souza stated, “I am a very busy person. I have two jobs, and I’m trying to save up money for medical school. FNU was the only school that I applied to that worked with me in every aspect, and I appreciated that very much. I needed to finish in a year, and FNU was the only one that gave me that opportunity and believed in my ability to do well. They entrusted me, and I am so grateful for that.”

On success, De Souza gives this recommendation to others: “The key to success, when you’re growing up and discovering what you want to do, is to find others who have a passion for their jobs and careers.”

Her mother was a speech therapist in Cuba, and De Souza states that she spent time with doctors often due to her poor health in early life. She was under the care of an incredible pediatrician who made her care easier despite the difficult conditions and limited resources that were available at the time in Cuba. She says that all of this inspired her to become the student and future doctor that she is today.

She also talked about the sacrifice that comes with success.

“It’s hard to be a passionate and driven individual.” De Souza said. “There’s a lot of sacrifice, discipline, and consistency that comes with being successful. That’s part of the passion. I feel that some students may be afraid of that passion, but if you really love what you do, all of the sacrifice is worth it.”

Penn State was her final choice out of 6 acceptance letters to various other medical schools. Needless to say, she has quite a stellar academic record.

For more information about the opportunities available to individuals who wish to attain their own success like Luisa has, please contact FNU’s Admissions Department at (305) 821-3333 for more information or Marketing and Development Specialist, Megan Silva at Msilva(at)fnu(dot)edu or (305) 821-3333 Ext. 1076.

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Leyanis Diaz Gil
Florida National University
+1 305-821-3333 Ext: 1067
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