MONTE VISTA—Christopher Villagomez, currently a junior at Monte Vista High School, has been accepted to attend the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) on medicine and healthcare this July at American University in Washington, D.C. and is also on a waiting list for Harvard University in Boston.
Villagomez, a hardworking student dedicated to service within his community, was accepted to the prestigious program based on his record of “academic excellence, extracurricular involvement and demonstrated leadership potential.” Although the program will offer many benefits in medical experience and boosting his college application, it will also cost Villagomez and his family about $5,620 for tuition, course materials, room and board, travel and other expenses.
The National Student Leadership Conference is a nine-day program with a packed itinerary each day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. According to their website, nslcleaders.org, “While at the NSLC, you will perform clinical rounds, learn medical examination and surgical techniques and participate in diagnosis and treatment while solving the mystery of a fatal outbreak sweeping the nation. You and your team will grapple with controversial medical issues, learn about today’s health care challenges and explore advanced scientific research in areas such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.” In addition to the simulation, Villagomez stated that he is looking forward to some of the other hands-on medical experience he will gain while at the program, including surgical knot-tying with a surgeon and several lectures from guest speakers who are pioneers in the medical field. Past guest speakers have included Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, U.S. surgeon general, among many other prestigious names. The itinerary also include in-depth educational tours of some of the top medical facilities in the D.C. area and will include workshops and simulations to build leadership skills vital for future doctors, including personality styles and group dynamics, conflict resolution, public speaking and ethical decision making.
Villagomez has been very involved in the Monte Vista community and hopes, once he has completed medical school, to return to practice medicine as a nurse practitioner, because “This is my home and I know the Valley sometimes has trouble keeping doctors here.”
Villagomez is currently involved in band, M.E.S.A. Science and broadcasting as extracurricular activities and is taking Development of Civilization at Adams State University on Monday nights from 6-9 p.m. in order to get ahead of his general education credits before he starts college. “I plan on taking more college classes at ASU next year. It will be a great help financially to take them during high school and will also save me time in the future” he added. Villagomez also works part-time at the Nazarene Thrift Store on Fridays and Saturdays and Dos Rios Restaurant in the evenings and has completed community service through volunteer hours at the Vali Theater, helping with his church’s Vacation Bible School and volunteers at Homelake Veterans Center. “It’s definitely been rough at times to balance two jobs, volunteering, school, and now fundraising, but I just look at it as building my time-management skills that I will need when I’m a doctor.”
He also mentioned how much he appreciates the support of his family, including his two siblings, 14 and 13 who also attend school in Monte Vista, also his parents Jessica and Alberto Villagomez “My family has been doing everything they can to get me there [NSLC].” When asked why the program meant so much to him, Villagomez stated, “I will receive excellent recommendations for colleges and more in-depth experience as well as a better understanding of the medical field. It will also provide me with a better understanding of things and requirements I can expect from working in the medical field and while doing so will help better prepare me for college.”
Keeping with his dedicated work ethic, Villagomez and his family have been raising funds for the program through a number of efforts and have raised about $1,100 so far. They are currently selling tickets for a quilt raffle for two quilts made by Donna Davis, Nancy Chacon and Josie Gallegos (Christopher’s grandmother). His family has also been making and selling tamales, “I would like to thank my parents and also my aunt, cousins and grandma for helping with the making of the tamales-as well as anyone who bought them.” Additionally, he has a donation jar at the Vali Theater and is currently looking for a business or donor to sponsor the $250 movie licensing fee so he can host a movie night at the Vali as well. Dos Rios will also be donating a portion of their proceeds during the evening of Tuesday, April 18 from 5-8 p.m. to his trip fund. Christopher will be eating there that evening and welcomes anyone to ask questions they have on donations for the NSLC and his fundraising efforts. More information can be found on his Facebook page, “Christopher’s trip to NSLC page” or he can be contacted directly at [email protected] “Any donations will be very helpful toward reaching my goal and are greatly appreciated. Thank you so much to my community and my family for all of their support. I am truly grateful.”
Villagomez needs to have all of his fundraising secured and paid to the NSLC by May 19 in order to secure his position; all tuition paid to NSLC is non-refundable after this date.