Nathan Paz, a 17-year-old biology major at the University of Guam, is on track to become the youngest ever graduate from the College of Natural & Applied Sciences. He plans to complete his degree at the age of 19 in May 2024.
And while it’s not a first in the university overall, completing a four-year degree by the age of 19 is a rarity, said Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness Deborah Leon Guerrero, who oversees the university’s data.
On the fast track since elementary school
Paz’s accelerated path started in the second grade in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, where he completed the requirements for both second and third grade in the same school year.
Later, while attending high school in Guam, he was able to accelerate his academics even further by completing extra credit hours, allowing him to skip his junior year. He took his first UOG class at age 14 under the Dual Enrollment Program while attending Tiyan High School. He graduated from high school in 2020 at age 15 and enrolled full-time at UOG that fall.
His career path is no less ambitious. Studying under the bio-medical track of the biology program at UOG, Paz aspires to pursue medical school and to serve the population of Guam as a doctor.
“My early exposure to the medical field came from my mother, who works as a physician assistant,” Paz said. “I spent a lot of time in my early childhood shadowing her clinics, and I was really interested in the operations within the medical field.”
Resumé building for medical school
He has found a diverse range of opportunities to gain medical experience and enhance his resume.
“I am grateful for all the experiences I’ve had throughout my college journey,” he said, highlighting one job shadowing opportunity, in particular, through the Health Opportunities & Medical Exposure nonprofit program. “I shadowed Dr. Delores Lee of the Evergreen Health Center and learned the importance of knowing your patients beyond their symptoms.”
Paz also volunteers with the American Red Cross and the Todu Guam Foundation, and he is an AmeriCorps member under the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, where he helps manage the COVID-19 testing clinic for hospital employees and assists in the planning of education initiatives and trainings.
Over the summer, he volunteered with the Spay and Neuter Island Pets community clinic, accumulating 75 volunteer hours assisting with the intake of animals, preparation of surgical kits, and post-surgical recovery procedures.
A supportive environment
Paz is in the process of looking for post-baccalaureate programs and additional volunteer and professional opportunities to gain exposure to the medical field. Meanwhile, he’s enjoying his undergraduate experience at UOG.
“I feel connected and close with many of my peers, and there is never a dull moment here,” Paz said. “The learning environment is extremely supportive of me, especially from the staff at CNAS.” (PR)