Volunteer work leads to career change for structural engineer

Medical student Esai Ponce jumped straight into training at Creighton University’s Simulation Lab.

Freshmen in medical school usually go this route, but Ponce’s case is unusual.

“I earned more than my parents combined. I was a first-generation college graduate. Life was good for me,” Ponce said.

Ponce was a successful structural engineer and had already attended six years of school with a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

In my spare time, I started volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul Medical Clinic.

“And it was in St. Vincent de Paul that I saw the work of Dr. Younger and Dr. Anwar and how they treat people,” Ponce said.

As a translator, Ponce witnessed the power of medicine and compassion.

How complex problems were solved and their impact on low-income patients.

“I think it made me grow as a person and really think about what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be,” Ponce said.

Ponce decided to make the leap, quit his job and enrolled in medical school in Clayton.

Embark on a seven-year journey to become a doctor.

“You learn everything from anatomy to basic science, from how to do a physical exam to learning how to use a stethoscope for the first time,” Ponce said.

Dr. Sonal Haeter of Creighton University said:

Dr. Harter says Ponce’s desire to heal people in their most desperate times, especially those with limited means, speaks for itself.

“He was drawn because he wanted to take care of people, to take care of people who didn’t have enough resources,” Dr. Heter said.

Ponce hopes that his story will inspire others to make their own leaps as well, just as the new year offers us all a fresh start.

“I think making my own path really broadened my outlook on life,” Ponce said.

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