When Raquel Muñoz, a daughter of Colombian immigrants, crosses the stage to collect her bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences Saturday, she will honor her parent’s sacrifice as she becomes the first in her family to graduate from college.

“I feel like that why my parents and grandparents emigrated to this country to give me this opportunity to make a better life for myself,” she said. “So when I walk across the stage and receive my diploma, I’m not just walking for myself, I’m walking for all of them.”

UCF President Dale Whittaker will confer more than 3,700 degrees in two summer commencement ceremonies Aug. 4.  Muñoz is one of 101 graduates from the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences – 83 undergraduates, 16 masters students and two Ph.D. candidates – who will receive diplomas.

“This is an exciting period for our terrific Burnett School graduates as they move on to the next phase of their scientific careers,”  said Dr. Griffith Parks, interim associate dean for research and director of the Burnett School. “We all wish them all the best as they continue on their journeys.”

Muñoz, like many Burnett School undergraduates, hopes to go on to medical school in hopes of becoming a pediatrician.

“I’ve always loved science and discovery. But I had also developed a love for working with children, while assisting my mother who is a teacher,” she said. “So I thought I wanted to teach, but as I grew older I realized that I could use my love for science and help children through medicine.”

Muñoz came to UCF from Texas as a recipient of the Knight’s Achievement Award, an academic scholarship for out-of-state students. At UCF, she became a peer mentor and a member of American Medical Student Association student chapter.

“Peer mentoring was such a great opportunity to give back and help out fellow students. and it also help prepare to me a better physician,” she said.  “We were trained on how to connect with students, but still stay professional at the same time. We also had to report our interactions in SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan) note format which is how physicians write their notes after meeting with a patient.”

She credits UCF for giving her the opportunity to meet diverse groups of people, which she believes will help her serve different populations as a pediatrician.

“UCF is very inclusive and always made me feel welcome and that was really the best part about studying here,” she said.

After graduating, Muñoz will continue to volunteer at Florida Hospital for Children while applying to medical school.

A live stream of Saturday’s ceremonies will be available at https://youtu.be/ABMSgMhFhTA