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Raised in Pink Hill, North Carolina, Ricardo Crespo grew up watching his parents work in fields, sometimes even helping in the work himself. The way of life has instilled in Crespo a motivation to be the best version of himself.
It also gave him firsthand experience of the health care needs in rural communities like Pink Hill.
Now a second-year medical student, Crespo is part of the Kenan Primary Care Rural Medical Scholars, a UNC School of Medicine program that prepares students to pursue rural, underserved patient practice in North Carolina.
“There is more than a responsibility, also a passion to want to give back to populations like that,” said Crespo, who was born in Mexico City. “I also just feel like I am in a good place to be able to give back to those populations.”
As he trains to become a doctor, Crespo is working to make a direct impact now as a co-director of the Student Health Action Coalition, or SHAC. The group is the oldest student-run free clinic in the U.S., having started in 1968 to serve underserved populations. Crespo began volunteering with the student organization while he was an undergraduate at Carolina.
“It really opens your eyes to the types of issues that our neighbors in our own community are facing,” he said.