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Tucson Arizona’s Cholla High School Sports Medicine Program Provides Purpose and Opportunity for Students

Posted: April 5, 2019 by Diane Smith
Photo of Pima Medical's CEO & President, Fred Freedman with Cholla High School Students

Students at Tucson’s Cholla High School Sports Medicine program are exploring the possibility of careers in the medical field. Students range from aspiring neurologists and anesthesiologists, to those planning to become phlebotomists, paramedics and OBGYNs. If you ask them why they joined the program, they will tell you it’s because they want a head start on their higher education.

Wearing scrubs every Wednesday, the class members show the rest of the students at Cholla High School that they share a vision and purpose in their plans for the future. “Wearing the scrubs makes you feel proud,” said Monica, a sophomore in the program. Ramon, a junior in the program added, “When I put the scrubs on in the morning, it reminds me that I can do more with my life.”

This program is thriving thanks to instructor Dr. Maritza Diaz-Collazo. Her students say they are inspired to succeed because of her dedication to them and the program. Dr. Collazo says, “I’m trying to make these kids understand that it doesn’t matter what your background is. As long as you have the drive and the ambition, and make a path, you can make your goals happen.”

“She helped me get all my grades up,” said Tony, a freshman in the program. “This first year has been really intense, but thanks to Dr. Collazo, I feel good about what I’ve learned.”

Dr. Collazo added, “I’m just so excited for them because I came from humble beginnings. I made it a mission for myself to make sure I got as educated as I could in a field that I loved. I just want to make that possible for them.”

“This class has really built a bond between us,” said Alexa, a sophomore in the program. “It prepares you for the real world and teaches you how to work with everyone.”

The program is intended to expose the students to opportunities they might not have otherwise, and assist them in making connections throughout the community. In Dr. Collazo’s first year leading this program, she already has established internship opportunities with a local hospital. In fact, the first student will be starting in just a few weeks.

Another connection created is with Pima Medical Institute. The medical career college, founded in Tucson in 1972, donated scrubs to the students. This week, President and CEO, Fred Freedman met with the class to discuss having a purpose and plan. He reminded them of the importance of pursuing a path that is best for their future.

“Career and Technical Education is more important now than ever. High school students have choices, and so many jobs today are technically oriented,” Freedman said. “What better time to explore options then during high school? Like many high schools we partner with, Cholla students are inspired to dream big and accomplish even beyond those dreams.”

The opportunity for these students to make these connections is part of Dr. Collazo’s goal to make an impact. She says, “I want parents to be proud to send their students here and I want students to see that if they’re interested in medical studies, that we have a path for them. I want this to be my legacy.”

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