Pictured: Henry Uribe III (right) attended a National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine this summer after being nominated by counselor Mellie Smithwick (left). Photo by MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Alice High School senior Henry Uribe III had the honor to be selected for the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine this summer in Houston.

Uribe was the only AHS student to attend the event. He was nominated by AHS counselor Mellie Smithwick.

Uribe has always held an interest in medicine, although it wasn't until watching the program "Dr. 90210" that Uribe started looking into plastic surgery as a career choice, especially in the area of facial deformities.

The NYLFM provided an opportunity for Uribe to not only learn more about the process of medicine and speak to some of the leaders in the field, it also presented him with the chance to actually witness surgeries up close, and the outcome surprised him.

"I wasn't afraid or nervous," Uribe said. "I was standing five feet away as they did the surgery from start to finish. It was an incredible opportunity. It was one of the highlights of my life so far. It was pretty intense. I was more excited than nervous."

As part of the experience, Uribe and his group of 35 students met with several doctors and administrators from the Houston area. They visited a coordinator for a hospice care facility, a local Ronald McDonald House, and of special interest to Uribe, Dr. N. Berkeley-Powell, a renowned plastic surgeon who practices in the Houston area.

The group also met with radiologists, pathologists and pharmacists at the Spring Branch Medical Center and toured the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

There he met with residents and emergency room physicians, participated in a medical ethics caucus, reviewed Patient Based Learning (PBL) techniques and received a MRI from a radiologist.

He also had the chance to sit in on seminars involving medical procedures, such as gastrointestinal surgery.

At UTMB, Uribe also toured Old Red, which is the oldest building on campus and houses the anatomy lab, with cadavers and numerous specimen jars.

"Another group came in and opened a cadaver box right next to me," Uribe said. "It wasn't really scary though, I was just surprised. If we didn't have cadavers to study, we wouldn't know as much about the human body as we do today."

Attending the University of California Los Angeles is Uribe's ultimate goal, because of its medical program and being situated in the plastic surgery capitol.

But, the University of Texas at Austin is also a consideration, Uribe said, and the choice is between those two.

The trip, which lasted 11 days, cost $2,300.

Through the support of family, friends and the community, Uribe was able to raise that amount with a barbecue fundraiser.

"I just wanted to thank Mrs. Smithwick for seeing my potential. I also wanted to thank my grandparents, relatives, friends and the community for their hard work and support," the senior said.