Below are bios and thank you notes from this year’s recipients of our class’s grants under the Bridges to Healthcare initiative. For more about the program, visit our Class Projects page.
Hubert Galan-Vargas ’23
Dear Class of 1985,
I wanted to thank the Class of 1985 for their generous donation to this fund. As a First-Generation and Low-Income student, I didn’t think a career in medicine was feasible for me and my loved ones. I came to Dartmouth not realizing my potential and ability, as I was plagued with the symptoms of imposter syndrome. It wasn’t until I received support from folks and people like the ones of the Class of 1985 that I came to realize my strength and intelligence despite my socioeconomic background. I’ve aspired to become a primary care physician ever since I was a kid via my experiences growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Boston. Experiencing the unfortunate inequities created for folks from low-income, urban communities of color, is the reason why I want to become a primary care physician. I want to connect with my community (in both English and Spanish) and provide them with equitable, accessible, and quality health care. I want to take my knowledge and lived experiences as someone who grew up in a food desert, within a polluted, crime-heavy city and with my understanding of migration and poverty and implement formative and impactful changes to my community via medicine.
I graduated cum laude (GPA = 3.80) from Dartmouth in June 2023 with a major in Biology on the pre-medical track. Within these past four years, I’ve dropped “pre-med” about 30 times … and I’ve picked it back up another 30 times. Every doubt or concern I’ve had about pursuing medical school has been a financial one. I want to thank the Class of 1985 for their donations that have made me able to receive this scholarship. I’m so incredibly grateful, as I feel significantly more empowered to take my MCAT now knowing that I got being cheering me on!
With so much thanks and love,
Hello, my name is Hubert Galan-Vargas! I am a proud first-generation college grad Gay Latino from Boston who graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor’s in Biology on the Pre-Medical track and Spanish modified in Latin American studies. I am currently a Research and Development Rotational Associate at Pfizer, working specifically within small molecule research, discovery, and formulations. Current interests and passions include scientific research, addressing disparities perpetuated by language barriers in the medical field, LGBTQ+ health, low-income/urban community health, and addressing inequalities in educational opportunities for low-income students. My work experience consists mainly of non-profit community work and scientific and health research, with specific research experience in clinical sleep, neurodegenerative diseases, and biopharmaceutical research.
Some things about my personal life: I love spending time with my family and friends while eating good food! I consider myself an introverted extrovert. I love listening to podcasts about conspiracy theories and going on morning runs.
Saron Ketema ’24
Dear Members of the Class of ’85,
I am absolutely thrilled and deeply grateful to receive the Bridges to Health Professions Grant. As a first-generation, low-income student, the financial challenges on my path to medical school have often felt insurmountable. Your generous grant of $1,500 to support my MCAT preparation and exam costs will alleviate an immense burden, allowing me to concentrate on my studies and perform to the best of my abilities. Your assistance not only eases my financial stress but also reaffirms my belief in the power of collective support and the incredible impact it can have on an individual’s journey.
I want you to know that your support has been inspiring. I am deeply committed to giving back to others in the future, both as a physician and by creating opportunities for aspiring students like myself. Your belief in my potential means the world to me, and I promise to pay it forward, ensuring that your investment in my education has a lasting impact on others as well. Once again, thank you for your generosity.
With heartfelt appreciation,
I am originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but currently reside in Portland, Oregon. I am currently in my fourth year of undergraduate studies and am scheduled to graduate in June 2024. I am pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration in Biochemistry. I am on a pre-medical track and have a particular interest in the brain. My academic pursuits extend beyond the conventional realms of biology, as I am deeply interested in exploring the social determinants of health. The interplay between these determinants paints a complex picture of how our health is influenced by the society we live in. In addition to my academic endeavors, I am actively engaged in cancer research within an immunology laboratory. Our research involves investigating the antitumor efficacy of CPMV, a plant virus, and its potential applications in cancer treatment.
Outside of my research and academic commitments, I hold leadership roles in Pathways to Medicine and the Minority Association of Premedical Students. These roles have provided me with invaluable opportunities to connect with fellow students and foster a community of underrepresented minorities interested in pursuing medicine. I also serve as a Bible study coordinator. My faith serves as an anchor in my life, providing me with a sense of purpose and continually reminding me of the importance of compassion, empathy, and service to others. In my leisure time, I find joy in playing intramural soccer, trying new recipes, and hiking. My academic journey, research pursuits, leadership roles, and extracurricular activities all intertwine to shape me. My ultimate goal is to leverage my diverse experiences and knowledge to contribute meaningfully to the field of healthcare.
Elena Dos Santos ’25
Dear Class of ‘85,
I am writing because I am immensely grateful for your generous support in covering my MCAT expenses. I am usually not a lucky person, and yet, I was lucky enough to be chosen by your team to receive this grant. As you may know, I am a first-generation, low-income student, and navigating the path to medical school has been incredibly challenging, both academically and financially. Your assistance, however, has truly been a lifeline, and it’s difficult to express just how much it means to me. This grant fills me with the hope that no matter how challenging circumstances may be, there are always kind-hearted individuals like you willing to lend a helping hand, and one day, I’ll be doing the same for others, paying forward the kindness and support I’ve received from you.
I have never once thought of giving up, and now, with your support, I am more determined than ever to succeed and become a healthcare professional. I am dedicated to contributing to a more diverse and equitable healthcare system, just as you do. Thank you for believing in me and for being a source of inspiration on this incredible journey. I genuinely appreciate your generosity. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!
I am a ’25 majoring in Neuroscience while also navigating the Pre-Med Track. I was born and raised in Brazil but moved to the U.S. at the age of 12. I learned English by myself, and though my transition to this country was extremely rough, it taught me to always be kind and resilient, leading me to earn a scholarship to attend this wonderful school, Dartmouth. I currently do research, am an EMT, and have three jobs that help me pay for my tuition. I am determined to get myself through undergraduate school without taking out any loans. I am also currently working on my application for the Geisel Early Assurance Program, which will hopefully give me a head start when I start working on my other applications for various medical schools.