Mauricio “Jimmy” Franco is fulfilling his dream of going to medical school in the fall of 2017, just one more testament to the power that perseverance has had in his life.

A queer activist, the brother of three strong “mujeres” — women, in Spanish — and the son of Guatemalan immigrants, Franco’s success did not come easily. He credits the “mezcla” or mix of personal identities in molding him into an outspoken leader who has advocated for and empowered others.

His will to persevere comes from the lessons he learned witnessing his mother’s battle with pancreatic cancer and being with her at her time of death. By overcoming adversity both personally and professionally throughout his life, Franco has learned to harness difficult experiences as his motivation to serve.

For the last 10 years, Franco has worked in the HIV field as an activist, health educator, counselor and clinical research coordinator. Through his studies in Global Medicine, Franco found a master’s program that enhanced his understanding of the many factors influencing health, which complements his understanding that many identities and influences create a larger whole.

After graduation, Franco is headed to Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. While medical school will require intensive study, Franco believes in nurturing his creativity to maintain balance in his life. He still is discovering his artistry as a writer and a photographer, and believes that his photography gives him a space to decompress as he continues his activism and pursuit of a medical career.

“Some of us will not have linear paths,” he said. “That is what makes our life colorful and dynamic. All I can hope for is that my openness and my journey remind others to listen to the voice inside them, to believe in their story, to find their voice and to not give up on yourself.”

— Mauricio Franco