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Latino Daily News

Thursday May 23, 2013

HISPANIC STANDOUT:  Felix Contreras Overcoming It All to Get Ahead

HISPANIC STANDOUT:  Felix Contreras Overcoming It All to Get Ahead

Photo: Hispanic Standout: Felix Contreras

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Felix German Contreras has quite a list of accomplishments to add to his name: NJ Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society President, pre-med aspirant, amongst others, but the one he is most proud of is “Immigrant Dreamer”.

The 22-year-old college student is just getting started on the road to a medical career but that journey could of never started for Contreras.

Contreras and his family emigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when he was 6-years-old looking for a better life.  The beginning of their immigrant journey was rocky often defined by neighborhood violence, incarcerated peers and rampant drug use everywhere Felix turned.  All of this would have been enough to derail anyone but not this immigrant dreamer who kept looking for the “catalyst to achieve.”

The young Contreras often wondered, “Wasn’t this move to America supposed to open a brighter future?”  Then the catalyst was found thanks in great part to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) is a free, six-week academic enrichment program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The intensive program— which offers tuition, housing and meals at 12 university sites across the country— equips college freshman and sophomores from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in medicine or dentistry.

Started in 1988 SMDEP has more than 20,0000 alumni which today sponsors 12 university sites with each accepting up to 80 students per summer session.

The program not only enhanced Contreras math and science skills it helped him overcome his deficient English language skills.

Currently Contreras is enrolled at the Atlantic Cape Community College which coupled with his SMDEP participation has given him the impetus and skill set to apply to either Amherst College or Wesleyan University to complete his undergraduate studies. 

HSN wishes this Hispanic standout all the best in his journey forward in the medical field.