Students Rising AboveBy Michelle Griego

by Michelle Griego and Jennifer Mistrot

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Ramón Zermeño greets patients every week at Clínica Tepati, a free health care clinic serving the Sacramento area. He’s fluent in Spanish. It’s a skill his patients appreciate.

“Being able to translate to patients that don’t understand a few words,” said Zermeño. “Just knowing that the patient [will] be reassured and comfortable with having a Spanish speaking person there, that brings me happiness.”

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Helping others improve their health is personal to Zermeño. When he was just 12 years old, his father was diagnosed with cancer.

“I saw how much help he needed,” said Zermeño. “And how hard it was that we didn’t really have people in the medical field helping us who spoke Spanish.”

His mother struggled to understand the English speaking doctors treating her husband. Then Zermeno – an avid soccer player – found himself needing medical care after tearing his ACL during a game. Surgery soon followed. Zermeño was unable to attend classes and soon his grades slipped

“It was pretty cruel for me,” he recalled. “I was depressed and what not and I was, like, I can’t let myself fall into this mode.”

Determined to make his father proud, Zermeño focused on his own recovery, returning to school and bringing his GPA up to a 3.9. Now he’s a sophomore at the University of California, Davis majoring in Human Development. He’s also volunteering, checking in the patients at Clínica Tepati.

“Even if it is as little as taking their vitals, that’s really important to me and to them,” he said.

Doctors like Bill Durston are impressed.

“The students, they are here because they are so idealistic,” said Durston.

Zermeño’s father is impressed, too. He’s now cancer free and proud of his son’s service to others in the immigrant community.

“Seeing that you are actually impacting if not the world, then at least some people,” said Zermeño. “That is the best gift you could get.”

Michelle Griego