Aspiring doctor wants to be a top grad and excel in the medical field

Achieving the Dream is proud to Spotlight a key component in the national community-college reform network to help more students succeed:  people.  Our people have risen to the challenge and focus on the way forward and the ‘big picture’.  Our people drive the organization forward, achieve results, have a vision for the future and deliver on that vision.

One such leading force was submitted for a Spotlight feature from Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College.


Aspiring doctor Jackie Castro’s interest in the medical field began when she discovered she really liked science, math, and physics at San Jacinto College.

She graduated with Honors, earning an associate degree in math from San Jacinto College in 2012 and then transferred to the University of Texas MD Anderson’s School of Heath Professions. She is on track to earn a Bachelor of Science in Medical Dosimetry in August, en route to pursuing a doctorate degree, either at Baylor College of Medicine, or the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Dosimetry is the study of radiation treatment, and Castro will most likely specialize in oncology, the medical branch that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Castro developed a strong interest in science because of Dr. Yuli Kainer, who teaches biology at the San Jacinto College North Campus. She developed a love for physics under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Goains, who teaches physics at the North Campus.

“Dr. Kainer knew my potential and would let me know when I was not performing up to my potential,” Castro commented. “She took time to answer questions, or even to listen when I had personal issues. It is due to professors like her that students find courage to keep going when life gets complicated.”

From Goains, Castro learned that success comes from perseverance, dedication, and hard work. “He worked long hours with me when I was doing research,” Castro said. “We spent hours trying to figure out complicated equations, or attempting to reproduce a complex circuit. He also is very good at explaining difficult concepts and ensuring that the material is well understood.”

Extracurricular activities, and involvement in Honors program courses at San Jacinto College helped Castro to grow, learn, and improve. As president of the Science Club, she observed demonstrations that sparked her interest in the medical field, such as autopsies and human prosection procedures. Through the Honors program she gained networking and public speaking experience by attending an out-of-state conference. “All in all my experience at San Jac was a rewarding time of professional and personal growth,” she remarked.

Castro’s interest in dosimetry and oncology stemmed from MD Anderson representatives visits to San Jacinto College. “After presentations from MD Anderson, I began to believe I could be good in the medical field,” she said. “I would like to be a part of the research and treatment that one day will hopefully help put an end to cancer.”

As a university student, Castro is learning about recent advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment. “There was a time not long ago when a diagnosis of some types of cancer was equivalent to a death sentence, but that is not necessarily the case any more,” she remarked. “Pancreatic cancer remains perhaps the most challenging to conquer because it is asymptomatic, meaning that it shows no visible symptoms during early stages.”

Castro acknowledges that tough challenges lie ahead as she begins her quest for a doctorate degree. “I will need to especially apply myself and excel in graduate school because I want to be among the best when I graduate,” she commented. “Some medical centers offer to reimburse the college expenses for graduates they hire, but those offers only go to the top graduates. My goal is to be a top grad, have college paid for, and then excel in the medical field.”

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