Congratulations Kevin Medina!

F&C alumni spotlight of Kevin Medina, Stony Brook University class of 2023

Jeffery Keys
Edited by Phoebe Wagoner
February 05, 2024
Image of Kevin Medina in graduation robes

When I asked Kevin what he remembered most about his experience in the Freedom & Citizenship program, he paused for a moment, sifting through all the memories from his time spent at the program in summer 2018.

The first that came to mind about F&C was that he and his friends were empowered with all the independence aspiring college students could hope for, yet chose to meet and eat breakfast in the dining hall together every morning without fail.

Kevin also recounted how F&C introduced him to the world of philosophy. “It made me a little bit more curious overall,” Kevin said. This curiosity carried through to Kevin’s time in college; although philosophy was not his main focus, it continued to enrich his studies. His favorite class, for example, was a seminar discussion-based theater class he took his junior year. It was in that course where he most directly applied the skills he developed during F&C, pairing evidence with opinions to engage in different and personal ways of thinking.

In college, Kevin was dedicated to his pre-medical track, which he knew he wanted to pursue from a young age, in part because the hospital system aided him with his primary immunodeficiency. He managed to find ways of merging his interest in medicine with his newfound knack for philosophical discussion by taking courses such as bioethics. When signing up for the course, Kevin recalled how engaged he was in studying philosophy while at F&C. “I love biology and I’ve always found philosophy interesting,” he reasoned, “so [...] why not?” He even found that he had already analyzed some of the texts on the bioethics syllabus in F&C.

I think I’ve always understood: it’s either medicine or bust.

Kevin went on to explain his interest in medicine to me: “I’ve always loved biology. [...] Most of my friends were entering college not knowing what to do but having some majors in mind—but I came in guns blazing with biology. [...] My career in undergrad was very streamlined. I’ve always known what I had to do, so I’ve never really struggled with finding what I really want to do, what I’m really passionate about. I think I’ve always understood: it’s either medicine or bust.”

In pursuing higher education, Kevin followed in the footsteps of his older brother, who was the first in his immediate family of two parents and four children to pursue education past middle school. Kevin told me: “I think what really made me want to go to college was [all] to do with my older brother. He set in stone [a family tradition] of continuing higher education. [...] And so he decided to go to college, he went to SUNY Oswego. And ever since then, it's always been on my mind: you’re going to college—no matter what.”


And ever since then, it's always been on my mind: you’re going to college—no matter what.

Kevin Medina pointing at his scientific research poster at the Icahn School of Medicine

In spite of Kevin’s drive and determination, his transition to Stony Brook University brought with it many challenges. Kevin was grateful for his high school friends and mentors, but his school suffered from underfunding and limited classes and extracurriculars. Taking general chemistry in college revealed to Kevin that he was not taught certain essential concepts in secondary school. Not only that, but university courses progressed rapidly—even with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) giving him a taste of college-level courses in the summer before classes officially began, a month and a half’s worth of EOP material would be condensed to just a couple of weeks of in-semester content.

That first semester was a wakeup call for Kevin, who had always breezed through schoolwork before that point. He recognized that he lacked true study experience and self-discipline, and with his med school aspirations top of mind, he recovered with a 4.0 GPA his second semester and has achieved nothing but academic excellence since.

Outside the classroom, he was dedicated to campus organizations that cultivated community. The aforementioned EOP brought together students with similar backgrounds and from similar neighborhoods as Kevin, who expressed his gratitude for the program to me. EOP gave students the opportunity to form friendships in the months before classes and thus allowed Kevin to enter college with a pre-established community. Kevin, who is Mexican, was also a part of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), which he says was the club to which he devoted the most attention. He served in leadership positions for the club each year, first as the Freshman Representative, then the Public Relations Officer, and finally the Treasurer as a junior and senior.

Even in a really diverse school, not that many Latinos are present…. [LASO] was a nice way to remain in touch with my culture.

Kevin Medina with the LASO e-board.

Kevin turned to LASO as a way to connect with both his culture and peers “who came from similar backgrounds as [him].” He credits the organization as being his “gateway to really living socially.” LASO was where he met many of his closest friends. “Stony Brook is a really diverse school, but even in a really diverse school, [...] not that many Latinos are present,” said Kevin on the importance of having LASO as an affinity space. “I’m used to living in New York City [which is] like 30% Hispanic…. [LASO] was a nice way to remain in touch with my culture, especially because we were in a very suburban, white town [surrounded by] suburban, white towns.” The club also often gave back to Latinx communities of NYC and Long Island, with members serving as tour guides to intercity high schoolers, college application assistants to graduating seniors, and general mentors.

Now, after having earned his Stony Brook degree, Kevin is making the most out of his gap year. A successful application cycle has brought Kevin even closer to his dream of attending med school, and he has been working part-time as a Spanish home care aide and full-time as a patient coordinator at a private dermatology clinic since graduating. He will begin medical school this August.

As a child enduring primary immunodeficiency, the place Kevin estimates he spent the most time outside of his own home was the hospital; soon, he hopes to return to the hospital with expertise in medicine and immunology to help others persevere through conditions such as his. Congratulations, Kevin Medina, on completing your undergraduate career and good luck at medical school!