A heart for those in need

Jasmin Cruz’s parents told her she was going to college no matter what. They knew their oldest daughter wanted to be a doctor and they were going to make sure she became one no matter the sacrifice.

During Cruz’s senior year in high school, her father reminded her of his promise for her to attend college.

“I don’t make a lot of money, our entire lives we have struggled, but I’m going to make sure you go to college,” Cruz’s father told her. “Whether we have to sell the house, take out a loan or I have to work till the day I die. We are sending you, no matter what.”

Cruz wasn’t going to let her parents sell their home. She thought she could just take out student loans, go to a community college and eventually go to a university after two years. But Cruz’s parents didn’t have to sell their home and she didn’t have to go to a community college because she received a full ride to William & Mary.

It was a full ride funded by scholarships given by generous donors.

“To think that William & Mary was able to meet me the full way — not half, not one-fourth of the way — but the whole way was a blessing I never counted on,” Cruz said. “I’m so grateful to the donors who have given in order for me to pursue my passion. I’m very grateful because they are helping me complete my education and my parents were also able to keep their house.”

Cruz, a senior pre-med major from Richmond, Va., wants to either be a general physician or an emergency room doctor. This past summer Cruz had an internship at St. Francis Medical Center in Richmond. Her internship included assisting patients in the ER, answering calls from patients at the nurses’ station and handling patient information.

Cruz’s passion for helping others dates back to when she was a little girl clutching a stuffed bunny rabbit. During an argument between Cruz and her younger sister her rabbit’s ear was ripped off. Cruz’s initial instinct was to lay the rabbit down and put a bandage on it. Instead, she asked her mother to sew up the ear. Once it was fixed, Cruz placed the rabbit on a blanket and sat bedside to make sure her first patient was recovering.

She says she is looking forward to helping patients on a daily basis as a physician and that her William & Mary education has prepared her beyond the classroom for the medical field.

“This university has taught me to be determined, to keep working and to value learning above a grade,” Cruz said.

Cruz is the oldest of two and the first to attend college in her family. Her sister is currently a freshman at William & Mary and is also receiving a full scholarship.

When Cruz was 13 years old, her father was laid off. Cruz helped him write his resume and assisted him in speaking English as he prepared for several job interviews.

“For the first time I didn’t feel like a child,” Cruz said. “I could see how he wanted to provide for his family and I could see the constant struggle that he desperately tried to hide from me and my sister. I feel like I definitely grew up during that period.”

Cruz’s ultimate career goal is to create a teaching hospital in Guatemala, in an area of the country where people currently travel two to three hours to the nearest hospital. She hopes that doctors who are educated there will stay on full time to provide care for the community.