On the Right Path
since he was a kid, Eric Sandoval wanted to be a doctor. He didn't
know a lot about them -- his parents were Mexican immigrants with no health
insurance so doctor visits were rare. But one thing really intrigued him:
When he was sick, doctors made him well.
"To have the ability to heal another human being, that was what I
wanted," says Sandoval, 25.
But Sandoval didn't see it happening. Neither his father, a landscaper,
nor his mother, who cleaned houses, completed the eighth grade. Though
he graduated from Concord High with grades good enough to get into San
Francisco State, once he got to the University, he was too insecure to
take the science courses required to get into medical school.
It took the support of a few caring professors and the backing of a San
Francisco State program called HealthPath to give Sandoval the confidence
he needed to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.
He switched his major to biology and with the help of HealthPath, is now
studying medicine at the University of California, Irvine, on a full scholarship.
He hopes to become a family practitioner and work with underserved communities.
HealthPath, directed by Counseling Professor Amy Hittner, provides academic
enrichment and counseling support to more than 300 financially and educationally
disadvantaged students, starting at middle school and reaching to the
college and university level.
The goal is to increase the numbers of traditionally underrepresented
populations in the health and medical professions -- from dieticians and
physical therapists to dentists and doctors.
Counseling and advising services are provided by graduate interns from
the Counseling Department who work with students at middle and high schools,
City College of San Francisco, the University of California, San Francisco,
and SFSU. HealthPath students also participate in social events and visit
work sites of health care professionals.
Sandoval knows the hard work is just beginning. He'll be spending long
hours with his nose in an anatomy text before he starts his career. But
now he knows that his dream is within his grasp, just as it is for other
"If I can do it," he says modestly, "other students can
-- Tracie White