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Questions have been answered with success

Irene Lazarus
Irene Lazarus

Irene Lazarus' analytical nature has served her well. Knowing 'how' and 'why have always been important to the 22-year-old Dallas native, and that fits hand in glove with her longtime love of science. When she started college at UT Arlington in the fall of 2006, she applied that thirst for knowledge to her studies, and it has paid off handsomely.

She graduated summa cum laude in December and in January found out she has been accepted into medical school at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas through the Joint Admission Medical Program, a statewide organization that provides support and services for economically disadvantaged students who want to pursue a career in medicine. She will enroll at UT Southwestern in August.

"I'm just an inquisitive person," said Lazarus, who majored in biology with a minor in chemistry. "Science allows me to explore my inquisitive nature. All of us have callings in life, and I believe in a sense medicine chose me, by calling me to pursue my passion for science since I was a child."

Hard work is something else with which Lazarus is familiar. She held two part-time jobs while in school - as a substitute teacher in the Arlington school district, and as one of UT Arlington's Science Ambassadors, a program where members conduct fun demonstrations for students in grades 3-12 to promote interest in science.

"I grew so much as a person at UTA," Lazarus said. "Having to work and go to school really helped me to focus and gain determination on what I wanted out of life. I think what helped me to balance two jobs and being a full-time student the most was being organized and being good with time management. The thing that saved me the most headaches was not waiting until the last minute for anything."

Lazarus' work ethic made an impression on her professors and advisors.

"She was a very sincere, outgoing, and conscientious student," said Robert Neill, a professor of biology who has taught at UT Arlington for 40 years and was Lazarus' instructor in two classes. "She was meticulous in her work. I was thrilled when she was admitted to (UT Southwestern). She will be an excellent ambassador for UTA. I am very proud of her."

Said Ed Morton, College of Science assistant dean and pre-med advisor, "Irene is one of the most dedicated and caring pre-medical students with whom I have worked. In addition to maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA, she worked as a Science Ambassador. She shared with me that she really enjoyed the job, because she wants to inspire girls to maintain an interest in the sciences, which often wanes as they get older."

"From this experience as well as various other volunteer experiences, Irene has confirmed that she is truly energized and happier when she is able to 'give back' to others."

One of Lazarus' favorite classes was CHEM 4316 Biochemical Genetics, which she took her last semester and which she said neatly tied up everything she had previously learned about biology and chemistry.

"She was no doubt one of the best students in my class and at UTA," said Subhrangsu Mandal, her CHEM 4316 instructor. "She is intelligent, hard - working and highly committed. She has a pleasant personality, too. I am sure that she will succeed wherever she goes."

Lazarus says she feels well-prepared for medical school by her experience at UT Arlington. She served two medical internships, one at UNT Health Science Center's Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth and the other at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The internships allowed her to shadow doctors, take mini-medical school courses and receive hands-on experience in such things as giving physical exams and taking patients' blood pressure. It all reinforced her desire to become a doctor.

"They (internships) gave me a valuable exposure to my future career," Lazarus said. "Taking classes with medical professors and shadowing doctors in various specialties really solidified my natural calling for this field."

Lazarus grew up in Arlington and graduated from Seguin High School. She has traveled extensively in Central and South America - her parents, Rene and Mirtha, are natives of Honduras - as well as in Europe, visiting family and friends. When she needs an escape from hitting the books, she's likely to be dancing, painting, sketching or creating graphic designs. She's not sure yet which medical specialty she wants to go into, but one possibility is obstetrics; she finds the process of helping bring newborns into the world "thrilling." Meanwhile, she is continuing to work as a substitute teacher until August, when she'll enter med school and embark on the next step in her journey.

She'll no doubt ask plenty of questions along the way.