Football dreams shattered before medical degree came true
“You always hear about this story that makes you want to be a doctor or whatever, but that’s what happened to me,” Reyes said.
He started part-time at a nearby community college where, four years later, he earned a medical assistant degree and was licensed to work in the field.
In 2012, Reyes received Deferred Action Status for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and in 2017 became a permanent resident of the United States. In 2016, he began volunteering at Good Samaritan (Good Sam Gwinnett) Health Centers in Norcross as part of an internship program.
“I learned so much,” Reyes said. “I was only supposed to come two days a week for two shifts for four hours. I came five days a week during my internship, and that’s how I loved it.
After several years as a full-time medical assistant at Good Sam Gwinnett, he decided to take the next step in his medical training. He is currently enrolled full-time in Mercer University’s Physician Assistant program with a view to graduating in 2024.
In July 2021, a federal court ruled the DACA program illegal and blocked approval of new applications. The current administration is appealing the decision while Congress discusses a permanent legislative solution. In the meantime, people who already have DACA status can continue to hold their work permit and apply for its renewal. Immigration services are still accepting DACA applications for the first time but are unable to approve them. Details: www.nilc.org/issues/daca/.
The non-profit Good Samaritan Church Health Centers in Gwinnett provide low-cost primary health care and dental services to the poor and uninsured at 5949 Buford Highway and 1175 Commercial Court in Norcross. Good Sam Gwinnett serves over 30,000 people each year. Details: www.goodsamgwinnett.org.
Asked what advice to give someone in his place, Reyes said: “If you have a goal or a dream, pursue it no matter what life throws at you. You will get there, sooner or later, maybe not in the traditional way or the normal time, but it will happen with hard work.