Medical student receives college’s first four-year, full-tuition scholarship

March 25, 2024

Inspired by her mother’s battle with breast cancer, a first-year medical student aspires to give hope to future patients and help them stay healthy.

Rocio Gastelum-Castillo

Rocio Gastelum-Castillo learned to face the unknown at an early age, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She accompanied her mother to every meeting of her cancer support group.

“I grew up watching battles be won and lost to both cancer and hopelessness,” she says. “As I grew older, I understood that I could aid cancer patients by becoming a doctor and a researcher.”

Rocio Gastelum-Castillo and mother

Growing up in Nogales, Gastelum-Castillo and her siblings lived with their mother on the Mexican side, while her father resided in the United States, where she attended school. Limited resources, including lack of health insurance, meant she rarely visited the doctor.

“The exposure that I did have to the medical field showed me a lack of diversity in the primary care community as there were few Hispanic providers, even within my predominantly Hispanic community,” she says.

After completing high school, she paid for her education and living expenses at the University of Arizona by working a variety of jobs and applying for academic and need-based scholarships. Now, as a first-year medical student at the College of Medicine – Tucson, her hard work and promise are being recognized by the college’s first four-year, full-tuition scholarship fund.

Beauty for Good, a charity created by plastic surgeons Ali and Tamir Mosharrafa, owners of Mosharrafa Plastic Surgery, established the Mosharrafa Family Scholarship fund at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. The brothers, who have provided compassionate care to thousands of women recovering from breast cancer, aim to support a medical student who has been affected by breast cancer, either personally or through a close family member.

Rocio Gastelum-Castillo at the White Coat Ceremony

Inspired by her mother’s experience and her own observations as both a patient and former hospital worker, Gastelum-Castillo ultimately aspires to be a primary care doctor who serves historically under-resourced communities.

“Just as I have not given up on myself and my dreams, I will not allow those I care for to become disheartened,” she says. “As this journey grows in difficulty, I have faith that I will be able to become a physician who helps and guides patients in their own battles against hopelessness.”

Show your support for future physicians like Gastelum-Castillo by giving to the College of Medicine – Tucson Student Scholarship Fund.