Science and Engineering Fair Participation Motivates UTB Graduate in Medical School
Humberto Gerardo Mendoza, a UTB alumnus and a medical student at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, was twice named the regional science and engineering fair’s grand champion when he was a student at Brownsville’s Hanna High School.
But the bountiful opportunities for Mendoza did not stop there. Because of his status as grand champion, he went twice to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and was interviewed in 2004 by Chinese media for being the competition’s youngest international participant at age 14.
“Exposing students to the scientific method and exploring different ways to solve a problem inevitably changes the way you think,” said Mendoza. “Participating in science research makes you a more inquisitive person – one who tries to solve problems rather than state them and makes you a more critical thinker – one who challenges our present in light of a better tomorrow.”
The 54th annual Rio Grande Valley Regional Science and Engineering Fair was held on Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22. Students competed in 17 categories including animal science, chemistry, electrical and mechanical engineering and plant sciences.
“My recommendation for middle and high school students participating in the science fair can be summarized in three words: determination, passion and perseverance,” said Mendoza. “In my humble opinion these are the three pillars to success. Having determination allows us to become centered in pursuing a given goal, which when combined with passion and love for what makes you happy, it creates a powerful combination generating an intrinsic drive to excel.”
Mendoza graduated from Hanna High School in 2007. He enrolled in fall 2007 at UTB and graduated in May 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He taught chemistry and physics at Los Fresnos High School before enrolling at UTMB.
He will graduate from UTMB in June 2015 and wants to enter an internal medicine residency and seek a fellowship in cardiology.
“Ever since I was 4 years old, I had two career options in mind: being a firefighter or a hopefully a doctor,” said Mendoza. “Although both have an altruistic origin, my passion for science and medicine grew more than the former. Contributing to this was the sight of my dad, a physician, coming home with his briefcase. Though the briefcase was not something out of the ordinary, it sure amused me. As time elapsed and I became mature enough to understand interpersonal relationships, I became aware of the nature of his work and the gratitude patients felt for him.”
The first regional science and engineering fair was held in 1960 and for several years took place at the Elks Lodge in Harlingen. Some of the event’s earliest leaders were the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District and Raul A. Besteiro Jr., a longtime Brownsville Independent School District employee and former Director of the Port of Brownsville. UTB has hosted the event since 2002 as a commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in the Rio Grande Valley.