23, No. 14, Feb. 19, 2004
On the job: Amanda Cuevas
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
by Bill Wiegand
works in admissions and recruiting for the Medical
Scholars Program in the UI College of Medicine.
Cuevas was a senior majoring in speech communication at the University
of Texas Pan-American, she envisioned herself doing graduate work in
public policy at an East Coast university. But Cuevas’ faculty
adviser and mentor, Dora Saavedra, envisioned a different future for
Cuevas and counseled her to consider a student affairs degree program
at Southwest Texas State University, now known as Texas State University
at San Marcos. “So not very willingly, I got on the computer and
checked it out,” Cuevas said. “And I realized, this is my
calling – to be able to work with students and make a difference
in their lives.” Cuevas, who earned a master’s degree in
speech communication with a minor in student affairs at Southwest Texas
State University, joined the staff at the UI College of Medicine in
Tell me about your job.
My primary responsibility in this position, especially this time of
year, is admissions and recruiting for the Medical Scholars Program,
which is our M.D./Ph.D. program. We have one of the largest programs
in the nation, and we also are the forerunner in offering an M.D./Ph.D.
in the social sciences and the humanities.
Throughout the year, I work with Jenny Bloom, who’s our associate
dean for student affairs as well as the administrative director for
the MSP, giving a lot of talks on campus. We also recruit at conferences
across the nation, send posters to potential recruits, answer many e-mails
and make a lot of phone calls.
What are the criteria for admission to MSP?
On average our students carry a 3.5 GPA and score 32 on the Medical
College Admissions Test. We’re looking for students who have a
pretty extensive research background, good volunteer medical experience
and are well-rounded individuals.
Last year we brought in a class of 29 out of 134 applicants. This year
we’re hoping for an entering class between 20 and 25 out of about
Currently we have a little over 150 students enrolled. On average, it
takes a student eight years to complete both degrees. It’s a tough
career path that they’ve chosen but a very rewarding one as well.
These students are really the cream of the crop. They’re going
on to do amazing things, so it’s very exciting to see them through
at least one portion of their journey.
What’s the most challenging part of what
Admissions are very fast paced, and that can be very challenging. What
I dislike most is when I have to tell someone that they’ve been
denied admission into the program. I try to let them know that there’s
another door that they’re meant to go through, but it’s
hard when I have to be the one that has to share that news with them.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love being able to help see these students succeed. I think that’s
what’s most rewarding.
What other types of projects do you work on?
I also help coordinate a lot of events in the College of Medicine, such
as our ‘Preparing Future Physicians/Scholars’ seminar series,
where we, our students, alumni or other researchers talk about various
topics, such as their work or what students can expect along their career
We also have a ‘Bench to Bedside’ seminar series where physicians
help make the connection between research and clinical medicine, and
‘Grand Rounds,’ where scholars present their current research.
On April 23, the college will hold its research symposium, which is
a celebration of the kind of collaborative research that is done in
the college. Drs. Michael Goldwasser and Russ Jamison will present their
collaborative work, and many of our students will give short talks on
their research, present posters and participate in clinical vignettes.
What kinds of things do you like to do off
My husband, Luis, and I recently bought a house, and we’re working
on some house projects to finish out our home. I’m looking forwarding
to putting in our landscaping this spring. We recently moved here from
Texas, so I like to keep in touch with family and friends. Luis is from
Barcelona, Spain, and we are looking forward to a visit with his family
there this summer.
I also enjoy reading and just had a poem published in Mentor, which
is an online academic advising journal. I’m also applying for
admission to the doctoral program in educational organization and leadership