Growing Up Baylor – Fernando Hernandez Centeno

Fernando Hernandez, currently an Internal Medicine-Pediatrics intern at Baylor College of Medicine, graduated from DeBakey High School for Health Professions in 2014. Learn how his time at DeBakey High School not only furthered his love for science but also provided him community after living in the U.S. for only a year. This profile is part of a series in honor of the school’s 50th anniversary.

Question: How did attending DeBakey High School for Health Professions impact your career?

Answer: DeBakey taught me the basics of life sciences, microbiology and anatomy, which made the learning curve in college a lot less steep than it would have been. More importantly, it challenged me like no other school had before to work and think above my comfort level and taught me the study skills that I use to this day as a graduate learner. Without Dr. Loeb’s AP United States History class, I would not have sharpened my notetaking and synthesis of information skills and without Mr. Saikin’s AP biology course I would not have found my college major.

Q: What is your favorite memory of being a student at DeBakey?

A: I can’t decide, so I’ll give two:

  • Morning-long field trips to watch surgeries at MD Anderson Cancer Center. I saw my first pair of lungs and heart in a living person, spoke with surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses and got to roam the hallways of the hospital while waiting for the bus to pick me up. Shoutout to the attending physicians who let high school students see their jobs up close and also to the MD Anderson cafeteria!
  • Watching “Kal Hoo Na Ho” in Mr. Saldivar’s film class as a senior. I have never laughed or cried so much in school. Definitely worth all three hours and four minutes of class time.

Q: What did you learn at DeBakey that you would not have learned by attending another high school?

A: The list of topics is long. DeBakey has a unique curriculum with introductions to microbiology, anatomy, physiology and many health professions. Beyond the curriculum, DeBakey has an extraordinary set of teachers who are incredibly knowledgeable in their field and who root for students to excel and make DeBakey’s name shine.

Q: What advice do you have for the class of 2023 and beyond?

A: Some of you already have a strong feeling about what you want to do. Take advantage of DeBakey’s curriculum when choosing your courses each semester. You’re at a school that offers you advanced classes in a lot of topics and not just in the sciences. These courses will challenge you, but you will reap the prize when you’re in college and ahead of many of your classmates. But most importantly, they’re a rare chance to broaden your horizons and discover your passions with lower stakes (and a lower price) than college.

Q: Did attending a high school for health professions help you in other areas of your life?

A: Absolutely! When I started my education in DeBakey I had only lived in the U.S. for about a year. I sharpened my English skills, made new friends and learned resilience in my personal life.

By Aaron Nieto

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