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A Physician Assistant Gives Back to PASP

Karina Silva graduated from UT Pan Americanís PASP in 2008Five years into her career as a Physician Assistant (PA) in the Rio Grande Valley, Karina Silva has come across the opportunity to finally give back to the program she attributes so much of her success to.†

She always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, one that would allow her to shift into different areas within the field. Unsure of what this career path might be, she talked to a friend who introduced her to the concept of a Physician Assistant. Immediately, she thought “this is perfect for me!”† So, her outstanding and inspiring educational career at The University of Texas-Pan American began when she enrolled in one of the University’s most notable programs, the Physician Assistant Studies Program (PASP).

With an interest in staying close to home through her studies, Karina chose UT Pan American. “I’m glad that UTPA had a good reputation,” she said.

These days she balances her busy life as a working mother, sometimes working 12-hour shifts with Dr. Juan Aguilera and Associates. However, Karina says that she believes her professors in the PA Program truly prepared her to become the successful professional that she has become.

“If the professors had not been sincerely caring and helpful, and if I had not found such great friends in the program, I would have quit within the first month,” she said. She recalled one her preceptor’s profound words, “Once you’re in the program, you realize that the hardest part is not getting in, but rather, staying in.”††
UT Pan American’s Physician Assistant Studies Program is the only PA Program outside of a medical school and ranks 38th out of 164 programs in the nation, ahead of Cornell, Stanford, Loma Linda and other prominent universities.

Karina says that she struggled in many ways while earning her degree, however her financial burden was by far the most stressful. “Most of us are either at UTPA with a scholarship or loans, or both. It’s not easy to put yourself through school.  You often make numerous scarifies along the way. As if school isn’t stressful enough, you also have to worry about your finances.”

Karina recently made a generous donation to the PA Program, in an effort to do her part in helping others who might find themselves in a financially taxing situation while working toward their degrees. “I just feel that since we have all been helped by someone along the way, then it is our duty to give back.  It is my way of paying it forward,” she said.  

During her time in the Physician Assistant Studies Program, Karina says that her classmates and professors became like a family to her, and she continues to remember why she gives back.

“Not everyone may have a support system to help put them through college and there are many of us that struggled tremendously along the way. So, I hope that students as well as alumni think about this and commit to giving something back to UTPA and the community. Help someone realize their dreams and encourage them to keep helping others as well,” she said. 


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