Photo Courtesy of Nick Gonzaba
Nicolas Alexander Morton-Gonzaba, or Nick as his family, friends and professors know him, is not your stereotypical pre-med student. In fact, he is more likely to be seen working out in the Recreation Center than studying for exams in the JPL. He is the type of person who will use a word like “golden” as opposed to “great” when analyzing someone’s accomplishment and the type of person who will describe his favorite color as “teal- aqua-ocean Bianchi bike blue” instead of simply “blue.”
The soon-to-be graduate cherishes his time as a Roadrunner. After attending Trinity University for one year and not liking the Biology program, Nick transferred to UTSA. “Many students were dropping out of Trinity’s pre-med. It was not my environment,” says Nick.
Initially, Nick planned to transfer to the University of Texas at Austin. However, he “loved UTSA and stayed.”
“All aspects of UTSA attracted me. The professors were more open with higher credentials and the camaraderie was better,” says Nick.
Nick became involved with extracurricular activities and took leadership roles. He served as the vice president of Alpha Epsilon Delta – the National Premedical Honors Society – through which he “learned support and communication, teamwork and networking.” He was also a Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader for Organic Chemistry and a member of the 2014-2015 UTSA rugby team.
“At UTSA, I learned how to connect with other students. Most of my involvement was oriented in a common group for the same purpose,” says Nick.
Nick started his medical school application about a year and a half ago. He asked his teachers for letters of recommendation and credits Dr. Hans Heidner, professor of virology, for reviewing and editing his personal statement. Dr. Alan Vince, director of the University Health Professions Office, wrote Nick’s committee letter, and Nick was ready to apply by the 2nd week of June.
Nick’s seamless school proficiency, his unique creativity and his outgoing character have recently earned him acceptance into several medical schools in Texas.
Nick “never had an epiphany” about becoming a physician — he simply “grew into the desire” to heal others.
Nick’s mother raised him in a single-parent home with the occasional help of his grandmother, who was a nurse. Nick remembers moments in which his grandmother would bring him along to make house calls for hospice families with terminally ill patients. He admired her helping hand and became attached to her. After losing his grandmother to breast cancer, Nick looked to two of his uncles and his grandfather as role models — all of whom were doctors.
Nick felt connected to his grandfather despite his grandfather being busy with his medical practice. He had started the Gonzaba Medical Group in the 90s, with offices in many cities. When he retired, Nick’s grandfather had a significant presence in Nick’s life. “He quickly became a father to me and guided me through his perspective and teachings. He taught me integrity and how to be ‘true to myself,’” says Nick.
In 2002, Nick’s grandfather reacquired his practice, and Nick started spending time there and helping out. “That is where I went everyday. My grandfather fostered my love for medicine,” says Nick. “I didn’t necessarily pick the path of medicine—the values of medicine aligned with my developed values, and it just fell into place.”
Although Nick has been accepted to medical school and interviewed at all public schools in Texas, he is still not sure where he will end up. “I might want to go to UTMB, it has a lot of history – it is the oldest school west of the Mississippi and the medical school that my grandfather and uncle graduated from,” says Nick. His family, however, wishes Nick would stay in San Antonio.
Today, Nick is an administrative assistant in his grandpa’s clinic, where he works alongside his grandfather and his two uncles. “My grandpa is my biggest role model,” says Nick. “He is 80 years old and wakes up every morning, puts on his hearing aid and goes to work in his clinic. I sit 20 feet away from him and I see him everyday.”
After medical school, Nick might pursue a surgical residency program. “My grandpa was a surgeon,” he says. “I am very detail-oriented and good with my hands. At the same time, I like the physician-patient interaction, and I like to be able to follow up with my patients.”
Despite this, he claims to be open about his path of specialization. “I have some sort of a plan, and I will get there. But today, I live for today,” says Nick. “I don’t want to be a rat racer because that is easy. That is living in a dream and living your life asleep.”