Pre-med student jumps in early to help her community

Axana Rodriguez-Torres addresses a group of community members at the first diabetes awareness class.

Axana Rodriguez-Torres addresses a group of community members at the first Diabetes Awareness class.

Advocate and educate: That’s what senior Axana Rodriguez-Torres is determined to do for her community. A double major in NPB (neurobiology, physiology and behavior) and psychology, she wants to be a doctor of internal medicine and plans to make prevention an important part of her practice in the Latino community.

Axana, from Elk Grove, came to UC Davis as a transfer student last year. In May, she was one of 15 California students to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Foundation. These scholarships fund public service projects that the students have proposed and will carry out during their senior years.

Axana, who volunteers at Clinica Tepati, one of the UC Davis School of Medicine’s student-run free clinics, started the Diabetes Awareness Project this summer. Her inspiration stemmed from her passion to educate people about healthy living. There are billions of dollars spent on diabetes-related issues every year, and Axana believes that if people are given the knowledge and tools to make different choices, this disease can be prevented.

The project is expected to reach hundreds of community memberspeople who otherwise may not have access to relevant and important information about obesity and diabetes. Axana has spent the last few months leading a class at All Hallows Parish in Sacramento, in addition to volunteering at Clinica Tepati and studying for the MCAT.

She will be taking the test this week and plans to apply for medical school this year.

Axana’s journey to achieving her dream has been a long one. She completed three years of medical school in her native Colombia, but for reasons beyond her control, she had to come to the United States. Her medical school credits did not transfer, so she had to start all over again.

Despite the adversities she has faced, Axana is more determined than ever to get back into medical school and continue her path to making a difference. I wish her the best of luck on the MCAT.

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