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Up and Coming Success Story: Brenda Medrano

June 18, 2009

After growing up in a home where Spanish was the primary language, ASU senior Brenda Medrano hopes to use her bilingualism to aid her patients when she finishes her nursing degree.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Medrano has long been the interpreter for her mother, Rosario, who speaks no English, and her father, Jose, who speaks just enough to work in construction.

“When they bought our house, I did all the paperwork,” Medrano said. “I also handle all their bank accounts, 401(k)s and bills for them. Basically, anything that comes into the house that requires reading or anything like that, they come to me and I help them out. Even with my little brother registering in school, I do most of the paperwork.”

Using the skills she learned at home, Medrano volunteers as an interpreter for diabetes education classes at ASU’s San Jacinto School Based Clinic and Family Wellness Center.

“I’m happy to do the interpreting because I know what it is like, that it is hard for people who don’t understand,” Medrano said. “There was a lady named Sarah in a class, and she does not have anyone who can help her. She told me how difficult it is just to get health care, how hard it is to tell what is wrong with you when you can’t make the doctor understand.”

Medrano also helped translate a book of diabetes-appropriate recipes so that all those attending the classes can use it.

Born in Mount Pleasant, Medrano lived a transient life as her family constantly moved to where ever her father was working. Moving almost yearly, she also lived in Midlothian, Canadian, Dallas, Kansas and Oklahoma before settling in San Angelo as a fifth-grader. In the sixth grade, she was introduced to ASU’s Up and Coming Scholars Program.

“We had to maintain high grades and do extracurricular activities,” Medrano said, “and we also got to do a lot of things with ASU. We also had to stay within the San Angelo Independent School District and we had to take random drug tests.”

At the end of each school year, she also got to take outings to the ASU Lake House to learn more about the benefits of an ASU education. By staying in the program, she gets a full scholarship for ASU tuition and fees.

“Having a twin brother, the program really benefited me,” Medrano said, “because I don’t know if my parents would have been able to pay for both of us to go to college.  But, now I get a full ride for four years.”

Despite the demands of her nursing education, Medrano still finds time to volunteer at the San Jacinto facility and works two days a week at a local restaurant. With her father often out of town on construction jobs, she also has to look after her mother and the family finances.

“My dad put me in charge of all the bank transactions,” Medrano said. “That way, we can figure out how to get bills paid, all the taxes, the title to the house, all that stuff. We work together, but I do most of the talking and writing checks.”

Scheduled to graduate in May 2010, Medrano has not decided on a nursing field yet, but does plan to work in San Angelo to stay close to her family.

“There are so many fields of nursing,” she said. “Right now, I just want to learn as much as I can.”