Rising Star Alumna
Mountain View College, Cedar Valley College
If it weren’t for the DCCCD Foundation’s Rising Star scholarship, Darnna Banks might never have had the opportunity to go to college.
Her educational path has been one where she’s seized every possible opportunity. She completed enough hours at Mountain View and Cedar Valley colleges to enter the University of Hawaii as a sophomore, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in Spanish. Today, she is a third-year medical student in Havana.
She’d always wanted to be a doctor, but couldn’t afford the exam fee to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). That’s when she found out about the scholarship to Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine, for foreigners who are minorities, underprivileged or who can’t secure educational financing in their own country. “I qualified under all categories,” she says.
Founded in 1998 in the aftermath of several Caribbean hurricanes, the school offers the scholarships to students from other countries on the condition that they return to their home country to practice medicine in underserved communities.
Darnna isn’t waiting until she finishes medical school to begin giving back to the community; she was recognized several years ago by Texas Governor Rick Perry for her 1,500 volunteer hours at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. After she graduates from the six-year program, she’ll come back to the U.S. to take her medical boards and exams, and then work as a doctor in an underserved community.
But she is quick to point out that it all began in DCCCD: starting classes in the Spanish language she studies in every day, beginning college and getting a boost of self-confidence. Says Darnna, “[Former Rising Star Director] Shirley Higgs at Mountain View helped me with the whole process of getting a higher education.” This will be something that the future Dr. Darnna Banks will always remember.
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