Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
UA College of Medicine's Med-Start Program Celebrates 40th Anniversary
by Native American Times staff

Native American students participate in Med-Start in Tucson through July 11

Most people remember the summer of 1969 as the time when man first walked on the moon and Woodstock happened. But a group of high school students from rural areas of Arizona, the reservations, South Tucson and South Phoenix remember it as the first time a world of opportunity in health care was opened up for them, changing the direction of their lives.

Forty years ago -- just two years after The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson opened its doors to its first class of medical students -- the College opened its doors to a group of about 20 high school students who came to the campus to attend the first Med-Start summer program and learn firsthand what it takes to be a health-care professional.

"The Med-Start program is an intensive experience in which the students acquire basic medical knowledge while learning about health-care careers," says Linda K. Don, assistant dean with the UA College of Medicine's Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs, which administers the program. "In addition, they're introduced to college life, which is vital to students entering health professions."

"The real magic of Med-Start is revealed in the personal stories of career success," she notes. "Whether the youth who have benefited from Med-Start became direct-care providers or chose career paths outside of the health professions, many have had a tremendous impact on the lives of others."

As examples, she cites:

  • Mariana Amaya, MD, a 1992 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 2001 and practices obstetrics and gynecology in Phoenix. Dr. Amaya also participated in the UA Minority Medical Education Program (MMEP) in 1994.
  • Ernestine Bustamante, MD, a 1988 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1997 and practices obstetrics and gynecology in Phoenix.
  • Carlos R. Gonzales, MD, a 1970 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1981 and is an associate professor with the UA College of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine. An award-winning family practice physician, he is a leader in addressing the challenges of border health issues.
  • Evelinda Gonzales, a 2002 participant and daughter of Dr. Carlos Gonzales (see above) who is a member of the UA College of Medicine class of 2011.
  • Larry Oñate, MD, a 1978 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1989, is a psychiatrist in Tucson who also is medical director of the Southern Arizona Mental Health Corp.
  • Celida Rangel, MD, a 1990 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 2002 and is a pediatrician in Phoenix.

Dr. Gonzales, one of the original Med-Start students, recalls that as a student at Pueblo High School, “I had an inclination to dream about going into medicine, but it was just a major dream.

"Med-Start motivated me," he added, explaining that he became the first in his family to go on to college. "Without Med-Start, it wouldn't have happened. I would have worked in the mines or gone into construction."

The program was developed to improve health care in rural and economically disadvantaged areas and to increase the number of minority health-care professionals in Arizona. UA College of Medicine Founding Dean Merlin K. "Monte" DuVal, MD, who helped shape the College, from choosing its site and designing the original facility to recruiting faculty and raising funds, lent his support in 1968 to a group of idealistic and innovative minority medical students who championed the Med-Start cause. Those students included Marcos Duarte, Ruth Smothers and Yuel Tom, all of whom later completed their medical degrees at the UA. After Dr. DuVal's death in 2006, generous gifts from family and friends established The Merlin K. "Monte" DuVal Memorial Med-Start Endowment, which pays tribute to the founding dean while supporting this vital program.

Today, in addition to the summer program, Med-Start promotes youth exploration of health careers year-round -- through tours of the Arizona Health Sciences Center, high school career days, student health events and other activities.

Several thousand students have participated in Med-Start since it was launched in 1969. In 2004, Med-Start grew to include a second program in Phoenix (then called Maricopa Med-Start or M2, now Med-Start PHOENIX), which initially accepted only Maricopa-area high school students. Med-Start is held on The University of Arizona campus in Tucson and at The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University in Phoenix.

The five-week academic summer program is for Arizona students who will be entering their senior year of high school and who are interested in careers in the health professions, are of underrepresented or diverse backgrounds, are living in rural areas or are economically disadvantaged. The program encourages them to pursue health-care careers by helping them prepare for college life, introducing them to health-career opportunities and informing them about educational pathways.

Med-Start participants explore a variety of health professions, engage in hands-on presentations, and take college-level coursework in chemistry, composition and study skills. Med-Start TUCSON participants live on campus in a UA residence hall; this year, Med-Start PHOENIX is a day-only program.

This summer, 61 high school students from across the state are participating in Med-Start: 39 in Med-Start TUCSON and 22 in Med-Start PHOENIX. Both programs are being held through July 11.

Native American Med-Start TUCSON participants include:

  • Victoria Cannon, Pascua Yaqui, of Tucson, a student at Cholla Magnet High School.
  • Jonathan Credo, Navajo, of Flagstaff, a student at Coconino High School.
  • Sky Fimbres, Pascua Yaqui, of Tucson, a student at Rincon High School.
  • Chanse Foster, Navajo, of Tuba City, a student at Tuba City High School.
  • Samantha Nez, Navajo, of Mesa, a student at East Valley Academy.
  • Natasha Yazzie, Navajo, of Mesa, a student at East Valley Academy.

For more information about the Dr. Merlin K. "Monte" DuVal Endowment, or to contribute to this important effort, call the UA College of Medicine Development Office, (520) 626-2827, or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more information about Med-Start, visit the UA College of Medicine Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs Web site,

pictograph divider
Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us
Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us
pictograph divider
  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 of Vicki Barry and Paul Barry.
Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo
The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!