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Made in the 956: Doctor and first-generation college graduate shares her story

2 months 5 days 8 hours ago Tuesday, June 14 2022 Jun 14, 2022 June 14, 2022 8:52 AM June 14, 2022 in News - Made in the 956

On this week's Made in the 956, we're introducing you to a first-generation college graduate who knew from a young age that she wanted to practice medicine.

Dr. Valeska Balderas of the Texas Gastroenterology Institute in McAllen is a Valley native and first-generation college graduate.

“My father didn't get to go to college,” Dr. Balderas said. “He was actually a migrant worker. My mom, as well."

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Dr. Balderas says in high school, she gravitated toward science and mathematics.

"It wasn't until probably senior year in high school that I decided I wanted to pursue, you know, my medical degree,” Dr. Balderas said.

She credits her parents for instilling so much drive in her.

"I think it was always instilled in me that being a female it was important for me to get educated, to be self-sufficient, to be independent,” Dr. Balderas said. “My parents really ingrained that in me from a young age."

It's that drive that likely helped get her through one of the toughest things everyone in the medical field experienced — the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What was very sad during that time is how many young patients we were seeing that were dying left and right and I think that's something as physicians we hadn't seen before,” Dr. Balderas said.

Dr. Balderas said the unpredictability of contracting the virus and possibility of passing it on to her family was burdensome. Dr. Balderas says her two biggest inspirations are her 4-year-old and 3-month old.

"I'm a work-a-holic. I love what I do, very much like my dad,” Dr. Balderas said. “I'm looking forward to seeing my girls grow up. I think that's the most exciting thing for me, is seeing what adventures they're going to take me on. I love them to death and I'm excited for their future, and I hope I can be a good role model for them. I see myself practicing and still taking care of patients here in the Valley and I'm excited for that. It's going to be fun, for sure."

Dr. Valeska Balderas: Made in the 956.

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