Latin Times Interview with Dr. Sergio Alvarez
Latin Times: Tell us about your family and where you come from?
Dr. Alvarez: I was born in El Paso Texas on the border with Cd Juarez Mexico. It was this unique upbringing that allowed me to grasp and truly understand my culture and the dynamics between two very distinct worlds. Both my parents came from humble beginnings growing up in Cd Juarez always aspiring to live the American dream. My father came to the US to do his residency training after finishing medical school in Mexico City. He ended up setting up his practice in El Paso because he wanted to be close to his family. It is that strong family bond that continues to keep us very united. I have an older sister and younger brother who live in Washington DC and Austin TX respectively. Even with the distance we find ways to reunite on a monthly basis.
Latin Times: What inspired you to be a Doctor?
Dr. Alvarez: Well there is no question that my early exposure to the medical field was a defining aspect of my passion for medicine. I distinctly remember going to the hospital with my father on a regular basis because due to his extremely busy schedule it was a way for me to spend time with him. After seeing my first open heart surgery at the age of 10, I knew then that there was nothing else I wanted to do than to be a surgeon. The ability to know what I wanted in a career at such a young age gave me the ability to focus and achieve my goals by the age of 32. Plastic surgery got my attention during medical school due to the fact that it was not only the most competitive specialty to get into and the surgeons training me were revered as “the best”, but it was the ability to work on every part of the body and really focus on the “art form” that captured me. It was the finesse that it required that captivated me.
Latin Times: You help Veterans, tell us how you help them?
Dr. Alvarez: During my time in Tampa I volunteered my time to teach the special operation combat medics (SOCM) before they deployed overseas. Being in residency is a full time commitment so I had to find a way that would not interrupt my training. I really felt compelled to fulfill my sense of duty and it was the SOCM program that gave me direct contact with our military service members. After graduating I wanted to continue this service and the VA is one of those ways I give back. I spend 2 days out of the week operating and treating veterans at the VA. Interacting with the veterans continues to give me a great sense of pride for the service they provide for each and every one of us.
Latin Times: What is your favorite Latin Food and do you like Cuban Sandwiches?
Dr. Alvarez: Well I would have to stick with what I know best….. Mexican Food. There is nothing like a good home cooked meal. My mother is a wonderful cook, and since we are a family that is very passionate, she has taken that passion to a whole another level. She has traveled the world, and when she is abroad she finds ways to take cooking classes, whether its in Italy or India or Argentina, she brings back some amazing recipes! But I have to be honest; she has been known to Fed-Ex me refried beans.
I do like Cuban sandwiches. I mean, I live in South Florida, I think Cuban sandwiches are what burritos are for Texans!
Latin Times: What advice would you give young Latino who want to be Doctors?
Dr. Alvarez: My biggest advice for aspiring physicians is to follow their passion. One of the aspects of medicine that set it apart from other careers is the journey it takes to achieve it. I feel I say this often; medicine is a journey not a destination. I would also remind them that through this journey they will have to do things they probably won’t like. They won’t enjoy every class they take or will be able to ace every obstacle, but they have to take the journey knowing that there is a light at the end. I would tell Latino students to follow their passion and not be scared by the time it takes, for the reward is beyond measure. To be able to change people’s lives in a way only a healer can, is a gift only given to the committed.
Latin Times: Who has been your greatest inspiration and hero?
Dr. Alvarez: My father was no doubt my biggest role model and the one that always pushed me to do what I wanted and to do it at the best of my ability. Even though he was a physician, it wasn’t his desire that I follow his footsteps rather that I choose something that I was passionate about and be the best that I could be. His ability to make a better life for his family and truly live out his dreams has always been inspiring. He is my hero.