She learned English at 11. Now she’s among first to graduate from Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a historic day for Mayo Clinic.

Its first class of 11 medical students graduated from the program Sunday during a ceremony on the campus.

The moment was a big deal for Johanny Lopez Dominguez. She plans to become a dermatologist. Dominguez learned to speak English at 11 years old and worked hard to get to this point.

“When I started college, I gave up in one moment because I did not think that I had enough money to go through medical school, I did not think I could do it, but I came back and I persisted,” Lopez Dominguez said.

She celebrated her achievement with Mayo Clinic Florida’s CEO Dr. Kent Thielen watching with pride.

Jordan Dutcher is one of the graduates now on her way to becoming an anesthesiologist.

Dutcher co-created a curriculum to treat victims of sex trafficking during her time at the school. She’ll be staying at Mayo Clinic for residency.

“This is a lot of long hours, a lot of tears, a lot of prayers and support from family and loved ones going into this moment,” Dutcher said.

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Dr. Alfrdo Quinones delivered a keynote address. The neurosurgeon called the 11 graduates trailblazers.

“To have a group of medical students who are the pioneers, graduating in the middle of this pandemic, in the middle of these world-changing events is something that allows us to give us help that anybody can be a pioneer, that anybody can change the world,” Quinones said.

“This is been a part of our vision for the future for the decades. Now we are realizing that,” Thielen said.

Those med students had to do their first two years either at Mayo Clinic campuses in Minnesota or Arizona, before wrapping up their last two years of clinical studies here in Florida.

This monumental moment for these students they say is the culmination of sacrifices, mentorship and perseverance and hope to pay it forward.

“I want to be there for patients I want to be a healer, alleviate suffering. Took a lot but I was persistent and able to reach this moment,”

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“I want to continue my practice as a physician someday where my patients feel like they are not a burden, it is not taking up my time, but getting to know them a learn about their lives to care about that is why I wake up every morning,” Dutcher said.

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