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Riverton native wins prestigious medical scholarship

Sep 05, 2015 03:59PM ● By Rhett Wilkinson

Holden Wagstaff, a Riverton native, won the Dr. Jose Antonio Mijangos, Jr. Scholarship. Photo courtesy Southern Utah University

By Rhett Wilkinson

South Valley - Holden Wagstaff, a Riverton native, is a recipient of the Dr. Jose Antonio Mijangos, Jr. Scholarship. The scholarship is available only to students entering top medical schools in the United States and covers half the cost of tuition for the four years of medical school.

“I am humbled by the generosity of the Mijangos family and the example of the late Dr. Jose Antonio Mijangos,” said Wagstaff, a Southern Utah University graduate. “I am further humbled to be selected from many qualified, capable, and exemplary peers. I also feel incredibly grateful to all those in my life who helped me along my path. I have an exhaustive list that includes my wife, my parents, a host of teachers, various mentors, and friends who provided me with inspiration and guidance.”

Recipients of this scholarship are chosen for their academic strength, passion for medicine, and a demonstration of a strong ethical and moral character.  As a future physician, Wagstaff hopes to address healthcare disparities in my local community and impoverished communities in the United States. He plans to work with displaced Cambodians and use his medical training for the betterment of others. Wagstaff desires to become an empathetic and experienced physician, committed to lifelong learning, healing, and research.

At SUU, Wagstaff was a biology major and member of the Rural Health Scholars Program, which assists pre-health students to achieve their dreams of entering a medical graduate program.  Wagstaff also served a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Kingdom of Cambodia, which first piqued his interest in global medicine. Starting this fall, Wagstaff will be attending the University Of Rochester School Of Medicine in Rochester, New York to pursue his medical degree.

When asked what it meant to him to receive such a prestigious scholarship, Wagstaff said he couldn’t speak to it because he feels “incredibly blessed.”

“I feel to put too much focus on challenges would be bordering on ingratitude,” Wagstaff said. “All I can do is to reiterate how thankful I am for all the people who have been put in my path.”

Mijangos was born in Mexico and became a surgeon in the United States, where he was heralded as having the second highest open heart surgery success rate in New York State.

The Rural Health Scholars Program helps students to become successful applicants to medical, dental, pharmacy, and other graduate-level health professions programs.  Student applications are strengthened through a regimen of classes, seminars, community service, job shadowing, research and advisement.