FHS senior Jorge Whitley nationally recognized
Fairfield High School senior Jorge Whitley is in the top 2 percent out of more than 250,000 000 Hispanic/Latino students and he was named a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar.
“It’s based on ACT/SAT [college entrance exams] scores, GPA and rigor of courses taken in high school,” said Whitley.
Students considered are from the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Mariana Islands and the Marshall Islands, as well as U.S. citizens attending schools abroad.
The award does not bring any scholarship money itself.
“As soon as I was notified I was named a scholar, all these invitations to colleges began rolling in,” said Whitley. “All the colleges were waiving application fees and the entrance essay.
“I’m pursuing two scholarships right now, the Gates Millennium scholarship and the Quest Bridge scholarship,” he said.
“The Quest Bridge has 30 to 40 partner colleges and I can choose up to seven and rank in priority where I’d like to attend,” said Whitley. “I have a few weeks to consider which colleges to list. I really like Stanford University [south of San Francisco] and Princeton.
“Stanford has an excellent medical school and Princeton, well if I have a degree from Princeton, I won’t have a hard time getting into any medical school.”
The Quest Bridge scholarship pays four years of tuition and expenses to the college of choice. If a student’s first choice does not select him, the other schools on his list can, so it rolls down the list he will submit.
Whitley said he’s been planning since middle school to work in the medical field.
“My mom has suggested I plan to study more than just being a medical doctor, which is a good career, but in case I don’t like it,” he said. “So, ideally, I want to focus on bio-medical engineering, because I can be a doctor — I want to be a neurosurgeon — but if I don’t like it, the engineering side has other options. I won’t run out of career choices.”
Whitley said he didn’t want to sound corny or cliché, but he wants a career in medicine because he wants to help people.
A car accident in June re-affirmed his intentions.
“It was a bad accident,” he said. “I was in the back seat, and the impact broke the seat belt and my head took the brunt of flying forward, scraping my scalp on the visor and rear view mirror. No one else was injured.
“I was losing a lot of blood and I thought I might not make it,” he said. “I was conscious but in shock. I felt like I was normal, yet realized something was different. The paramedics or someone said I needed a hearse, not an ambulance, and I wanted to yell and wave my arms, ‘Hey, I’m alive, I’m alive.’
“I was going to be flown to Iowa City, but the helicopter wouldn’t start. So the ambulance drove me. Normally it’s about an hour’s drive up there. It felt like it took forever. I had seen my mom before leaving the accident scene, but she couldn’t come in the ambulance. She’d told me not to fall asleep, because I likely had a concussion. I thought I could die before reaching the hospital and it made me sad to not see my mom again.”
Whitley said the team of doctors that surrounded him and took him into surgery when he arrived at the hospital affirmed his own career choice.
“I was helped by highly skilled doctors, there were about 15 of them, and the entire team was determined to help me and comfort me and keep me calm,” said Whitley. “The anesthesiologist was great, and while I went under, I thought, ‘this is what I want to do.’
“I want to save lives and also comfort and calm people.”
Another perk of being named a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar and applying for Quest Bridge scholarships, Whitley’s already had a campus visit to one of the partner schools.
“I was one of 100 selected to visit Rice University in Houston, as part of the SOAR program [Seeking Opportunities At Rice], all expenses paid,” he said. “I was flown to Houston, put up in a room, fed, given tours of campus and Houston; it was great.”
Whitley said some of his friends and classmates encourage him to stay in Iowa for college.
“I like Iowa,” he said. “I was born in Texas but raised in Iowa. I want to go out and see other places, experience other people. Medical school is going to be difficult in itself. If I can experience it in a new setting, near the ocean or something, I want to do that.”