Luz Maria Jimenez, sister of American Airlines pilot Tricia Jimenez, was also an LAEF scholarship recipient and also encountered barriers of her own.
A graduate of West High School, Jimenez knew that she wanted to be a doctor someday. Similar to her sister, Jimenez also faced negativity from a school counselor who told her she couldn’t. “I was always really interested in science and I loved physiology and so I decided I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. Our college advisor ridiculed me for wanting to go into medicine,” Jimenez said. The counselor, who also told her sister Tricia she couldn’t be a pilot because she was a woman and Hispanic, told Luz Maria that if she wanted to be a doctor she would have to “look into being a nurse’s aid or go into the military to become a doctor.” Jimenez was an academically competitive student and ranked among the top ten in her graduating class.
A mark of the same gene pool, Jimenez kept her tenacity and graduated from West High School in 1988 and attended Regis College, now Regis University, where she double majored in biology and psychology. Throughout her college career, she earned scholarships from 1988-1992 from the Latin American Educational Foundation (LAEF) helping her to build her path toward becoming a doctor.
“They actually made my dream possible. I couldn’t have done it without the scholarship, without someone believing in me so I could succeed. LAEF was instrumental in me being a doctor now,” Jimenez said.
Today, she works as a pediatrician for Denver Health at the Westside Family Health Center, a job she says is rewarding and that she “loves” because she is given the opportunity to work with inner city children who come from low-income families. She also expressed joy in being able to communicate in Spanish with those needing medical assistance. “I love being in an academic center,” she said referring to Denver Health. “I also love providing medical care to a population that is underserved and vulnerable.”
She and her family are first generation immigrants who have shown that dedication is key to achieving one’s goal’s in life. “I have been so blessed in so many ways. I love having to live in a community that didn’t have anything in abundance. I think growing up with a sense of pride for your culture with a sense of aspiration to become someone gives you that drive and determination to become successful,” she said. “To any inner city kid that is thinking of becoming a doctor or going into a successful career path to follow their dream — if there is a will there is a way.”