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Student Spotlight: Jose Madrid


From struggling to speak English after moving to the U.S. from Honduras at the age of 17, to pursuing a career as a physician, Jose Madrid shares his experience through support and motivation of overcoming the obstacles of settling in a new country.

Learning the English language was not an easy task, especially after Jose was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder at 28 years old. While his diagnosis was surprising, it did not deter him. He enrolled in Hillsborough Community College (HCC) as a first-generation college student in 2021 to pursue a degree in business before switching his academic focus to medicine.

Jose is currently enrolled in the biotechnology laboratory AS program and is taking classes online at the Brandon Campus. He’s expected to graduate in 2025 with a goal of pursuing a career as a pediatric surgeon.

Speaking on his current role as a project manager he says, “I’ve come to understand that my role was a result of life’s unexpected turns rather than a fulfillment of my true aspirations.”

When he chose HCC, he saw a pathway ahead of him that he wanted to follow by changing from business to biotechnology to align with his vision. He said, “Just follow what you want, don’t let life dictate your path. Let your dreams dictate your path.”

His wife, Lacey, who is also a pediatrician in Honduras, illuminated the pathway for him to pursue a career in medicine. Observing her ambition to continue her specialization in pediatrics in the U.S. has inspired him to chase his own dreams.

Jose received numerous amounts of support from Lacey, his son Lucas and his mentor at HCC, Elizabeth McCullough, who introduced him to the medical world and to the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) family. He was welcomed in with open arms and directed on a path to follow his dreams.

In 2023, Jose was introduced to the Black, Brown and College Bound Summit (BBCB) and was invited to attend with the HCC HOPE Scholars. While attending BBCB, he was encouraged by the numerous speakers and the sense of community and brotherhood among the black and brown college students in attendance. Jose was able to network with others and left feeling encouraged for the remainder of the academic year.

“I was motivated and left ready to eat the world, per se. Being 36 years old and not knowing if the path I took was right, BBCB helped me realize that I was on the right path,” he said. “Don’t let your age define you, let your dreams shape your reality, keep surviving and keep succeeding.”

This past March, Jose had the opportunity to attend BBCB again and take part in the annual student panel, which shares perspectives on success, education and social justice.

He shared, “Sometimes we let life decide on what we do.” He felt connected to students when sharing his thoughts on choosing the path he truly wanted over what life dealt him, the panel ended with students offering their thanks for him sharing his story.

His second time attending BBCB was very motivating with a lot of energy and involvement. “I get the energy I need for the year because I’m able to connect with other students pursuing careers in all areas, so I can see their perspectives,” Jose said.

Seeing BBCB as an opportunity for brotherhood, “it feels good to have a group of people who understand and weigh the same things you’ve gone through in life and the brotherhood motivates you to keep going.” His goal would be to return to BBCB in the future either when he’s a medical student or a physician to speak to the students again about his experience and drive them to continue their passions.

This year, the Summit’s theme was “I am more than enough.” Jose believes this now and BBCB helped him realize that truth. “I feel it, I’m pursuing my medical career and it’s not going to be easy, but I feel I am more than enough so that’s why I’m doing it,” he says. 

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