The short film, “Frontera Dreams: Improving Lives, Empowering Generations,” encapsulates the mission of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso in honor of its 10-year anniversary as an independent health sciences center within the Texas Tech University System.
This short film follows the 10-year journey of four TTUHSC El Paso students from grade school to graduation in the fields of medicine, nursing, research and dentistry in our Borderplex. It begins with career day, a rite of passage for many grade schoolers, where each shares their aspirations with their teachers and classmates of becoming the next generation of health care providers.
Jesus Guzman, M.D., portrayed as a child by 10-year-old Nico Casillas, wants to be a doctor, while Angela Lopez, played by Keelyn Kerns, has her sights on being a nurse. Anna Ceniceros (Addy Garcia), the daughter of migrant farmworkers, announces her intent to become a dentist, and Joshua Montes (Christian Flores) wants to find a cure for cancer as a medical researcher.
Ten years later, as TTUHSC El Paso students and alumni, Jesus, Angela, Anna and Joshua describe how they realized their “frontera” (frontier) dreams of receiving the most innovative and culturally competent health care education that would allow them to better serve the Borderplex communities in which they lived.
All four are first-generation college graduates whose parents came from Mexico. For each it was a dream come true to receive their education as health care providers on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Angela Lopez graduated from the Hunt School of Nursing at the age of 19, becoming the youngest nursing graduate at the school to date. After graduation, she went on to serve her community as a nurse at El Paso Children’s Hospital and is attending medical school in our sister city of Ciudad Juárez. Like Angela, 87% of students from the Hunt School of Nursing are from the Paso del Norte region. Together, they are addressing a critical health care provider shortage in the area's underserved communities.
“Looking back at my younger self never fails to inspire me,” said Lopez. “Thinking about how much I desired to be where I am today makes me feel empowered. I’d love for others to feel this same inspiration; for them to know that it’s never too late or too early to pursue your dream.”
For Joshua Montes, the opportunity to study health care here in El Paso meant that he could help others close to home. His dreams, however, are far from complete. Joshua wants to attend medical school at the Foster School of Medicine following graduation this spring as a biomedical researcher.
“I really liked acting [in the film],” said Nico Casillas, “especially because I got to speak Spanish.” Asked if he wanted to be a doctor when he graduated from college, the normally shy fifth grader replied “maybe,” but he’d rather be an engineer.
“That’s not surprising,” remarked Dr. Guzman, whom Casillas plays in the short feature. “When I was Nico’s age, all I knew was that I wanted to work hard like my mother.”
It wasn’t until he attended a Foster School of Medicine white coat ceremony that he knew he wanted to be a doctor.
“Just having the opportunity to attend college as a first-generation student opens up a world of opportunities,” he said.
Dr. Guzman is one of more than 2,100 students who have graduated from TTUHSC El Paso since 2013, going on to rewarding careers in medicine, nursing and research. In 2025, the university will graduate its first cohort of dentists.
“Frontera Dreams” was produced in cooperation with Barracuda PR, El Paso Children’s Hospital and El Paso Independent School District’s Mesita Elementary School. Joe Najera of Barracuda PR was the film’s producer and cinematographer.
“Frontera Dreams” is available on YouTube.
Read More: TECH TALK - JAN 19, 2023
YOU CAN HELP
At TTUHSC El Paso, we are committed to growing our own health care heroes and changing the state of health care in our Borderplex. For more information about how you can help, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit ttuhscep.edu/elpaso/ia/giving/.