Deserving medical school students receive aid through the generosity of Mrs. Maria Garcia Roach.
The late Dr. Alberto G. Garcia (photo courtesy of the Austin History Center/Austin Public Library)
September 20, 2012
More than 10,200 students applied for the 188 seats available in the 2015 class at Tulane University School of Medicine. The substantial cost of medical school can often be an insurmountable barrier for deserving students. However, the Dr. Alberto G. Garcia and Mrs. Eva Carrillo Garcia Scholarship, established by Mrs. Maria Garcia Roach in March 2009 to support medical students at Tulane, is named in honor of a family devoted to breaking down barriers and furthering public service.
Alberto Gonzalo Garcia was born in Mexico in 1889, and became a ward of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan at age ten. Dr. Kellogg ran the world renowned Battle Creek Sanitarium where he stressed a vegetarian diet, vigorous exercise and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. Kellogg, best known for his creation of corn flakes, also helped establish the American Medical Missionary College, where Garcia received his first medical degree in 1910.
In 1913, Dr. Garcia was admitted to Tulane University School of Medicine and received his second medical degree one year later, becoming the first Mexican to be medically trained in the United States modern medical era, studying under Dr. Rudolph Matas and working alongside Sister Stanislaus. In late February 1914, he performed the first open heart surgery in Louisiana on a young black patient who arrived at Charity Hospital during Mardi Gras. He was also the first Mexican American to establish a private medical practice in Austin, Texas, where he fought tirelessly to assure that Mexican Americans received proper medical care. A vocal proponent of civil rights, Dr. Garcia also battled the KKK and other segregationists for equal rights and better educational opportunities for minorities.
Like her father before her, Maria Esperanza Garcia Roach found herself at Charity Hospital in New Orleans in 1940, where she taught anesthesia to medical students and worked with such notables as Drs. Michael DeBakey and Alton Ochsner. As a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Corp, Maria Esperanza Garcia attended numerous wounded soldiers on air evacuation flights back to the United States from the battle fields of North Africa, Asia and Europe. A decorated officer (recipient of the Bronze star and Air Medal), she continued serving her country after the war by working with the State Department and started a hospital in the Gold Coast for pregnant native women and their children.
This commitment to public service embodies the Garcia family’s belief that one’s professional activity should be combined with social activism. Dr. Garcia and his wife Eva may not have had the opportunity to achieve so much were it not for the generosity and aid of the likes of Dr. Kellogg. This lesson was passed on to Maria, and has been realized in the endowed scholarship fund that bears her parents’ name.
Tulane shares the vision of Dr. Garcia and his family, establishing itself as a vital component in the renewal of one of America’s greatest cities and working to reestablish both access to medical care and a medical education. With the generous help of stewards like Mrs. Maria Garcia Roach, deserving students are being given the opportunity to receive a Tulane education and become capable, compassionate physicians providing high quality care locally, nationally and globally.
Matt Roberts is a writer in the Office of Development Writing.
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