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Dr. Daniel Schidlow
Dr. Daniel Schidlow capped the night with a speech as the Lifetime Achievement honoree. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DÍA News.

"Don't forget where you came from, because then you will know where you are going." The best of speeches from AL DÍA Top Doctors 2023

Meet the 10 AL DÍA Top Doctors honorees in their own words from Monday night, June 12.

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To honor the work and dedication of the Latino community in medicine, AL DÍA held its annual Top Doctors ceremony on June 12, honoring the work of 10 extraordinary doctors from different specialties in the city of Philadelphia. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award was granted to Dr. Daniel Schidlow, Dean Emeritus and professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel's College of Medicine. Undoubtedly, his legacy and impact on the Hispanic community in Philadelphia makes him worthy of such an important award. During the acceptance, he thanked his wife and the Drexel University students who were present at the event. He also highlighted the importance of Latino representation in medical schools and encouraged young students to never give up on their dreams and to be proud of their roots.

"Don't forget where you come from, because then you will know where you are going," Dr. Schidlow advised the audience.

For his part, Jordan Juarez received the Emerging Leader Award. Juarez is the co-director of the Latino Medical Students Association (LMSA-NE) and completed his third year at Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine. He was recently admitted to a one-year research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP). His publications are focused on race and sex differences in the management and outcome of pulmonary embolism of which were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 

According to Dr. Natalia Ortiz Torrent, who presented the Emerging Leader award, Jordan's passion for medicine was born from witnessing firsthand the language barriers Hispanics face when seeking medical care. Jordan's grandmother emigrated from Mexico to the United States in the 1960s, where she began working as a seamstress. Later, she was diagnosed with diabetes and because of her poor English skills, her interactions and medical care became increasingly complicated. This experience was the starting point for Jordan to pursue a career in medicine. 

In his speech, Jordan advised medical students to always remember "the joy of medicine" despite the challenges they may encounter along the way. He also thanked his mentor at Temple, highlighting the importance of mentorship as a Hispanic and undergraduate student. 

The eight honorees

In addition to the Emerging Leader and Lifetime Achievement awards, AL DÍA honored eight Latino leaders in medicine. The first was Dr. Arleen Ayala Crespo, associate professor and specialist in Clinical Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Temple University and Temple University Hospital. For the Puerto Rican, this award is a "true source of pride" after having arrived in Philadelphia 40 years ago. 

During her acceptance speech, Dr. Ayala expressed her gratitude for having the support of a mentor while she was a student at Temple University. As she described, it was an unparalleled asset to her career in medicine. 

"Find a mentor who sees the best of you," she said. 

The second recipient of the evening's award was Dr. Alejandro Delgado-Daza, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Albert Einstein Medical Center, who emphasized the importance of bilingualism in the profession.

"You have a special gift: you are bilingual. Use your gift," advised Delgado-Daza.

Dr. Erick Forno, director of the Pediatric Asthma Center and associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, was also honored for his career in the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, UPMC Children's' Hospital of Pittsburgh. However, he was not present during the event. 

While Dr. Enrique Hernandez, the J. Robert Willson professor and Chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Lewis Katz School of Medicine, was honored for his more than 25-year career at Temple Hospital. According to him, his hope is that the Hispanic youth currently studying medicine can give back their knowledge and serve the Hispanic community as they deserve.

Dr. Sarah Inés Ramirez received her award by sharing the barriers her Dominican-Cuban family faced since she was a child, serving as an interpreter for them. Ramirez has a vast background as an educator and social justice. She currently serves as a Family and Community Medicine assistant professor at Penn State Health. 

Another honoree was Dr. Marylin Ramos Lamboy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician at Albert Einstein Medical Center. For Ramos, being Latina and being part of the LGBTTQ+ community in medical school was a difficult road she had to travel alone and without the help of mentors. This is why she recommended to the new generations to believe in themselves and trust in the path. 

"You need to motivate yourself," she said. 

Unlike Dr. Ramos, the award-winning Dr. Jimmy Ruiz stressed the importance of having a mentor during his years of academic training. As he confessed, "without a godfather there is no baptism," referring to mentors as a key piece in making one's way in the medical field. Ruiz is an obstetrician-gynecologist at Jefferson Health Northeast and Abington. 

The evening ceremony closed with the presentation of the award to Dr. Vilmaris Quiñones Cardona, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine. She is associate director of the Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship program at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. During the acceptance of her award, she emphasized the need for Hispanic representation in medicine, especially when it comes to serving the Spanish-speaking community. To those present, she advised them to be their own path and "create their own north."

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