Muir ESSA Student Heads for Colder Climates

May graduate accepted to St. Mary's University of Minnesota for dual Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program

“I always wanted to be an aerospace engineer,” says Iris Sanchez, “and that’s why I went to Muir, because they  have all these programs. And then because of COVID, I had time to actually sit down and look at different things that I was good at, as well as my weaknesses.”

For Iris, it was time to make a decisive college and career move. She realized that her true calling was to become a physician assistant (PA). The Muir High Engineering & Environmental Science Academy (ESSA) senior will be headed off to St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in the fall to make that dream a reality.

Alejandra Diaz, counselor in the John Muir High School Early College Magnet and PUSD’s College and Career Academies program, describes Iris’ academic path, saying, “She just got accepted to a bachelor’s and master’s program for physician’s assistant. And she did a lot of her work through her dual enrollment credits through PCC through our program and also as a concurrent enrollment student.

“Her high school journey was a little different, not the traditional,” added Diaz. “She took on more college coursework than she did high school coursework, and we’re really proud of her. And she’s also currently taking the EMT classes to help her get set up for her clinicals for her program.”

As Iris continued, “I started looking for a career that would fit me, because I like to help others, and that is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Since she had taken accelerated classes and programs in her Muir/PCC career, she was looking for the same in a college program, but found few in California.

Researching campuses, she found that St. Mary’s had a program where students study at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota for a Bachelors’ degree in three years.

In their last two years, students then work on the renowned Mayo Clinic campus, as they work towards their Master’s degrees.

Asked if she wanted to continue her career and become a medical doctor, Iris said, “I’m not quite sure, because I know a lot of the pros and cons of being a physician’s assistant, and one of the pros is that unlike doctors, you interact with your patient a lot more.”

Whatever career eventuality comes to her, she stressed her gratitude for the Muir ESSA program and offered this advice to her fellow students.

“I think the best thing” said Iris, “is that a lot of people don’t know or realize that, even if right now you don’t want to go to college, or you have been thinking about college, the credits you’re able to earn there at the school not only teach you, but they teach you how easy college can be and help you understand it.

“It also gives you the opportunity to get stuff done that you wouldn’t be able to do in like a regular high school.”

There will be a lot more of that “getting stuff done” to come as she begins the next step of her academic journey, hopefully with a warm coat.


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