Out of the Fields
Growing up as a farmworker in a family of fifteen, Ramon never imagined he could become a doctor. Abandoned by his single mother, who had five kids before the age of twenty, he grew up in an environment of severe poverty, neglect, and a total disregard for education. At the age of three, he was picking cotton in the fields of Central California. It was his elementary-school teachers who opened his eyes to the idea of education and awakened in him the dream of going to college and becoming a doctor. It wasn't easy. He had to overcome low self-esteem, a speech impediment, recurring depression, prejudice, discouragement from school counselors, and even opposition from his grandparents, who wanted him to get a factory job and pay them back for having taken him in when no one else wanted him. But Ramon persisted and eventually fulfilled his dream. For the past twenty years, he's been in private practice in the same central California region where he grew up. 'I see myself in many of my young patients who come from farmworker families as I did,' he says, 'and my mission is to be a role model who cares for their spirits as well as their bodies.'
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