Garden Grove Valedictorian Shares Deeply Personal Motivation to Succeed

After he graduated from high school Roger Zamudio never seriously considered attending college. It just didn’t seem like the path for him. He worked at various jobs and went about life like most young people in search of who they’ll grow to become as older adults. That all changed for Roger when a healthcare crisis struck his family.

“Stephanie Zamudio, my beautiful, strong, fighter of a sister was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018,” he said. “Watching her endure so much pain, surgeries, and even close calls really impacted me and my whole family.”

Through his support for Stephanie, Roger saw first-hand the impact that people in healthcare can have, especially for those who are fighting cancer. He decided that he wanted to pursue a career caring for others.

That’s when he turned to UEI College in Garden Grove.

“I had heard about others who went to UEI for medical assisting and they all seemed very happy with the experience, so I decided that I would check it out,” Roger said.

Roger enrolled in the Medical Assistant Program, where he excelled as a student with straight A’s and nearly perfect attendance. He was hired as a Medical Assistant at the family practice where he completed his externship earlier this year. 

“I honestly enjoyed every second of it, from classes to labs to my externship,” he said.

“Mr. Zamudio epitomizes not only what a great student is, but also a great person.  He found true purpose and dedicated his studies and now career to achieving that purpose,” said Garden Grove Campus President Mark Lucero. “I am confident that he will do great things in the future!”

“I am beyond proud of what Roger has accomplished and it shows that skills and knowledge is the power to get you where you want to be,” said Nicole Pinillos, Director of Career Services.

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Roger did so well in the program that he was named Valedictorian for the Class of 2022 and was asked to be the student speaker at the Garden Grove graduation ceremony. As he stepped up to the podium on stage to deliver his remarks, the packed auditorium at the La Mirada Theatre for Performing Arts erupted with cheers and applause, and even a few tears. Not only had Roger been an exceptional student but he had also become an inspiration to his classmates. They knew about his sister as the source of his motivation to do well at UEI.

“I would like to thank my family for always believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself,” Roger told the audience. “I would also like to thank my friends here, the UEI educators and administrators because, without you guys, I wouldn’t be here today.”

His speech continued by sharing the story of his sister’s diagnosis and years-long fight to survive.

“Her source of strength and motivation is family, her baby girl Marina and her supportive fiancé Chris. To keep fighting to be able to see a future not just for herself, but to follow her dreams one day and event to see her daughter chase hers,” he said. “That’s what has kept her pushing and fighting to this day. And that’s what we all need to see for ourselves – doing good to keep pursuing our dreams and not giving up when times get tough.”

A voice missing from the chorus of support for Roger in the auditorium on graduation day was Stephanie herself. She was in the hospital recovering from an intense 10-week round of radiation therapy, but her presence was felt by all during Roger’s speech. He concluded with an appeal to the crowd to help others like Stephanie.

“I would like to take this moment and let people know that there are 1.90 million new cases of cancer each year. We can help them by donating blood, plasma, platelets, or showing them support and telling them that they are not alone,” he said. “It might be for them today, but one day it could be one of us.”

If you’re interested in becoming a Medical Assistant, consider enrolling in UEI College’s Medical Assistant Program. Learn how to become a medical assistant.

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