BBC INTERVIEW

Hispanic Heritage Celebration

BUY BOOK

A long period of education and training was required for Dr. Fernandez to get to a place where he could offer such a high quality of medical care and compassion to his community.For Fernandez, higher education started at Princeton University, where he majored in molecular biology. While at Princeton, he was awarded the Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction that is given to an undergraduate for achievement in academics and for representing the best interests of the university. He also graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude. Following his Princeton years, he was accepted into the highly selective Harvard Medical School—MIT program in health sciences and technology. After graduation from Harvard, he underwent training in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at the New York University (NYU) Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital.

During his career, Dr. Fernandez has been involved in a variety of research projects and scientific publications. His main endeavors have been in vascular biology and molecular genetics. His early work at Harvard dealt with the cloning of a gene involved in high blood pressure. More recently, at NYU, he completed work aimed at changing the genetic instructions of vein grafts so that they are less vulnerable to obstruction. Dr. Fernandez has given many presentations at local and national meetings in both basic science and clinical topics related to vascular and cardiac biology and physiology.

In recent months, the doctor’s amazing immigration story has captured nationwide media attention. In his upcoming book, Undocumented, Dr. Fernandez tells of growing up in a poor neighborhood in Medellín, Colombia, being illegally smuggled into the United States by his parents, excelling in school, getting accepted into Princeton University, seeing his undocumented alien status become known and then be resolved with the help of U.S. politicians, attending Harvard Medical School, undergoing a residency program at New York’s famous Bellevue Hospital, and embarking on a surgical career through which he gives back to society for all he has received. Beyond telling his own inspirational story, Fernandez puts a human face on the issue of immigration and reaffirms the American Dream of freedom, hard work, and success. His book represents the first time a former undocumented immigrant has told his own story of immigration and struggle in America on the way to finding acceptance and success at some of the highest levels of American society. Thus it shows not only what our nation has to offer immigrants but also what they have to offer us.

Meanwhile, he has not forgotten his roots. Dr. Fernandez participates in numerous volunteer activities to improve the health of people in his community. Over the last two years, Dr. Fernandez has been active in reaching out to immigrant youth to promote the importance of staying in school, and the message that with faith, hard work, and sacrifice all your dreams are possible.