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Scholarship opportunities spark student’s passion for teaching

Aaron Carrillo

Aaron Carrillo, a junior majoring in human biology and specializing in pre-medicine, maintains an optimistic outlook on life. Carrillo is an anatomy teaching assistant and is inspired by his students and the potential they have to advance the understanding of the human body.

Carrillo initially majored in biomechanical engineering before he realized he wasn’t getting the human interaction he craved. He doesn’t regret changing his major. “I’ve been able to teach, I’ve had great professors and advisors who have improved me as a person. I love it.”

Aaron Carrillo

The connections physicians make with their patients inspires Carrillo, and he is eager to follow in their footsteps. As a child, his family couldn’t afford health insurance so visits to the doctor were rare — until his mother needed treatment for cancer. “Seeing those doctors, how they bridged this gap between having a doctorate and working with people who hadn’t even gone to high school, I got addicted to that.”

Carrillo said he has faced obstacles as a Vietnamese-Hispanic-American with limited financial resources. Thanks to scholarships, he is able to attend KU and volunteer at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Carrillo is a recipient of the W. Harold Otto Scholarship and the Freeman East Asian Internship Scholarship. He also studied abroad in Vietnam and interned at two organizations there: Smile Group, an organization for children who are HIV-positive in Ho Chi Minh City, and Friends for Street Children, an organization helping undocumented children living in poverty.

Friends for Street Children provides elementary level education and health and dental checks for children that do not have access to these services. “That completely changed my mindset and really enforced my passions to really help underrepresented populations. It got me involved with all these different avenues, and KU has been there every step of the way.”

Carrillo is an activist at home as well. He works with RESULTS, a world-wide organization that aims to end poverty via outreach. Volunteers campaign and talk with representatives and senators about issues and policies that affect those living in poverty, such as housing policies and the racial wealth gap.

Carrillo intends to continue his education and will be applying to medical school next year. He aspires to combine his interest in helping others with his passion for teaching. “I want to be able to teach and carry on that skill within the environment of the health care system. All the scholarships I was offered, all the people who have given money to KU, I owe my education to. Thank you for understanding that there are students here who don’t have the resources.”

Carrillo is also thankful for the encouragement of faculty and staff. “I really want to say thank you to my advisors, Amea Chandler and Patty Fugett. They have been there at my lowest points and my highest points, and to Dr. Victor Gonzales, for making it possible for students to teach this class.”

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