Yasmany Cartaya’s interest in medicine started in the Marine Corps.
"I volunteered for a class for first aid responders, but it is out on the battlefield in case something should happen,” says Cartaya. "From there I learned how to treat certain wounds just as long as we can get a medevac to a person.
"Once I had that background in the Marine Corps and I got out and I started college, I saw I was pretty good at sciences, and people just nudged me forward to try medicine. I shadowed a family physician for two years and it was amazing. I like helping sick people."
Cartaya is one of 171 incoming first-year medical students at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. By almost every academic measure this year’s class has the strongest profile in the college’s history based on MCAT scores and prior academic performance.
A third of the class is from outside of Ohio and 17 states are represented. About 13 percent of students are from underrepresented minorities. Cartaya, a second-generation Cuban-American, is from Miami, Florida.
He initially attended Miami Dade College and later the University of Miami to receive a bachelor’s degree in biology.
"I grew up in Miami and it was always my dream to attend the University of Miami," says Cartaya. "It really wasn't for science and I kind of fell into science and ended up loving it."
Cartaya, 32, says the Marine Corps taught the discipline that was needed for college and will serve him well at the College of Medicine. He tried college initially after high school, lasted a month and then decided to join the military which taught an important lesson in discipline.
"The Marine Corps set down the foundation for me. They gave me focus, drive, motivation and patience to complete all my tasks with a sense of pride," says Cartaya. "One thing I learned in the Marine Corps is you can be passionate about something, but have passion in everything you do."
Cartaya worked his way through undergraduate serving as a security officer. He also was a volunteer for the Miami Fire Department. Midwest hospitality coupled with UC's supportive environment for veterans convinced Cartaya to consider Cincinnati.
"When I lived in Jacksonville, North Carolina, at Camp Lejeune, there were more forests while Miami was a concrete jungle," he says. "People in Cincinnati are amazing. When I walked through the atrium at UC where students get to study, I fell in love. The icing on the cake is this state also considers veterans in-state students."