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Hector Romo: Self-Motivated Leader

August 16, 2011

Relying on his inner determination, ASU senior Hector Romo has used the major events of his young life to chart a course toward a promising future.

A native of Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico, Romo was just 11 years old when he suffered a heart attack attributed to a genetic abnormality. In response, he immediately decided he would one day be a cardiologist.

“My heart beats faster than normal and they don’t know what causes it,” Romo said. “I felt like I could help, so I made a promise to myself to become a doctor. Also, I just like to help people and I like science a lot, so that is a career that combines those things.”

About that same time, the natural restlessness of youth and the need to better understand his video games prompted Romo to learn English.

“I originally learned English because I was bored during the summer between my sixth and seventh grade years,” he said. “I didn’t have anything to do and was sitting around the house in Torreón. I found this stack of books on the street and one of them was a Spanish-English dictionary.”

“I would listen to music and the dialogue on a video game I was playing,” he added. “I didn’t know what was going on with the video game, but they had little bubbles that you had to read in order to know what to do. I started reading the dictionary and that’s how I basically learned English. It took a lot of practice and dedication, but I managed to do it.”

As a result, Romo was well-prepared for his life’s next major event when his family received visas and moved to Texas as he was about to enter high school. He assimilated quickly into West Texas society, graduating from Veribest High School as valedictorian.

After high school, Romo found ASU to be a perfect fit with its pre-med program and proximity to his family. Despite some early struggles with biology and chemistry, he persevered to earn a place in the ASU Honors Program, and repeatedly makes the Dean’s List as he continues working toward his childhood dream of becoming a doctor through ASU’s biology/pre-med program.

Indirectly, biology also led Romo to his current passion – student government.

Fellow biology major Austin Osmanski was a major influence in getting Romo involved in the ASU Student Government Association (SGA). They first joined as senators representing students in the Biology Department, then were elected president and vice president. At the end of their term in office, Osmanski stepped aside and Romo was elected president.

In addition to his pre-med studies and student government activities, Romo is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and several honor groups, and works as a tutor.

As if all that were not enough, Romo experienced another major life event this summer when he studied abroad in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. He joined a group sponsored by biology professors Dr. Robert Dowler and Dr. Terry Maxwell to study western biology and history, and the functions of natural history museums.

“It was a fantastic experience,” Romo said. “Before I went, so many people who had gone before said it was a life-changing experience and that I would learn many things. I kind of understood, but I thought, ‘life-changing experience? Really?’”

While his skepticism was understandable after having already lived through several “life-changing” experiences, Romo soon realized that the study abroad trip was everything that had been promised.

In London, he learned about Charles Darwin and visited the British Museum of Natural History. He also got to see Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga when it opened in theaters. Paris featured the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral. Germany offered study of fossil discoveries and the culmination of the trip in Berlin.

“We spent two weeks in London and my life was already changed so much,” Romo said. “After London, we still had the two weeks in Paris and Germany so, yes, it was definitely a life-changing experience.”

Now Romo plans to use his ASU education to become a doctor and help change the lives of others.