National Latinx Heritage Month is observed Sept. 15 – Oct. 15. In the following Q&A, Mariana Arce, a third-year medical student at our Lexington Campus, shares about her identity as a Latina and how it has helped shape her goals as a future physician. 

Q: How do you identify? What is your national/cultural background?

A: I identify as a first-generation Latina. Both of my parents were born and raised in Bolivia and all of my extended family still lives in Bolivia.

Q: What do you hope to specialize in?

A: I am hoping to pursue psychiatry or internal medicine (or both!) as a career.

Q: How does your cultural background impact the way you view and approach your medical education and future career? 

A: My Bolivian heritage and fluency in Spanish gifted me with the tools I needed to serve the Latino population of Kentucky throughout my life. During high school, college, and medical school, I volunteered as a Spanish medical interpreter and worked to coordinate health care services for Latino patients by working hand in hand with several nonprofit, Latino-based clinics throughout the state. These experiences were instrumental in carving my self-identity and ignited a passion within me for serving the Latino community of Kentucky. When I chose to pursue medicine, I knew my purpose would be to advocate for my patients by bridging the cultural and linguistic gap between the growing American Latino population and their medical providers.

Q: What do you hope to achieve through your career in the long-term?

A: My experiences have also given me a clear appreciation for what my long-term goals are as a physician. My contributions to advancing our knowledge of Latino health disparities through clinical research are ongoing, as are my efforts to advocate for the needs of this deserving patient population through leadership and service. With my experiences as a Latina growing up in Kentucky, my drive for supporting underserved patient populations in the US will expand throughout my training, as will my commitment to being both a listener and a voice to socioeconomically vulnerable patients who may otherwise fall through the cracks of our health care system.