Sergio came to Baylor because, as an institution, it stood out among Texas schools. He stayed because Baylor's people stood out in his life. "The faculty here is so open. You can walk into any professor's office and they'll make time." Sergio came in as a chemistry major, but soon decided it wasn't for him. He thought he might be interested in medicine but wasn't sure. While taking a class with Dr. William Hillis, M.D, Sergio decided to take a leap. Though he was a little nervous, "one day I went to Dr. Hillis' office to ask him for help. He immediately took me in. I asked him about the possibility of switching to Biology Pre-Med and becoming a doctor. He talked to me about his own experiences and gave me some books that had helped him along."
As their relationship deepened, Sergio began to take more classes with Dr. Hillis. "I took a research class with him in which we looked at endocrinology. We cultured some rat adrenal cells and subjected them to different compounds to see how aldosterone secretion was altered." Sergio quickly found that lab work was harder than expected. "Once you do actual research, you learn that often the preparation is much longer and harder than the actual experiment. We had the whole procedure mapped out, but I failed in culturing the cells, so I never got any results." Though the experiment itself was a bust, Sergio wouldn't trade that experience. That sort of freedom – the freedom to try and fail – was far more valuable to him than any scientific findings would have been. "Med schools care more about the experience than the results," and failure shows an admissions board that there was no hand-holding involved in an undergraduate's research. The board at Washington University in St. Louis (a Top 5 medical school) must have agreed: Sergio will begin studies there in the fall.
"Washington was definitely my first choice, and I was so excited that I got in." Though he worked hard to get to Washington, participating in an honors society and two pre-med student organizations, Sergio still had time to have fun at Baylor. "I decided not to join a fraternity, but I was allowed to play intramural sports with one. I was on the flag football and basketball teams all through college. I was also in the American Chemical Society," another student organization on campus. "We did little magic shows for children at the Mayborn Museum on campus and through other Baylor events. It was fun: dry ice in water, blowing up bottles, that kind of stuff. So I guess I really got everything I could've asked out of my experience at Baylor."