Aug. 16, 2013 - Julio Montejano’s entry into medical school was a long time
coming - if you count the time he spent as a 4-year-old pining for his own
Back then, Montejano was inspired by Dexter’s Laboratory, a
television cartoon series featuring a boy-genius with a secret lab, a mortal
enemy and a pesky sibling.
“It’s really silly but ever since then I told my parents
that’s what I wanted to do,” he says.
Science intrigued him not because of what has been
discovered, but because of what is not yet known.
“We take for so much
for granted, and we don’t know how so many things work. We need more people to
figure out why the things we take for granted do work. When we know that, maybe
we can figure out a better way to do things.”
He remembers being impressed with two physicians as a young
boy. He’d been walking with a friend discussing favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja
turtles, when his friend collapsed from hypoglycemia, hit his head and began
“I didn’t gather any
meaning about it at the time, but there was something about those doctors. I
remember thinking that I wanted to be able to command a room like that - to
save someone’s life.”
A few years later he experienced something similar with his
father. But this time, Montejano would have a greater role in the disease:
The family had moved to Denver from Mexico, and someone had
to translate what the doctors were saying.
“At first they were hesitant to let me do it because they
might get in trouble with liability. They’d do their best to say important
things to my dad in Spanish, then I would fill in the holes.”
In time, the physicians grew more comfortable with his role,
but trust grew more slowly for Montejano.
“I was terrified about it. I thought ‘What if I say
something wrong or forget to tell him something.’ But after a long time nothing
had happened, he was fine, so I had more confidence in myself.’”
He joined the International Baccalaureate program at Hinkley
High in Aurora and began focusing on pursuing a medical career. He was accepted
at University of Denver and after an inspiring cellular biology lecture,
approached the professor to ask if he could work in his lab. Finally, Montejano got his wish, and he spent
the rest of his college years trying to determine genetic markers attached to
different types of diabetes, while also working as a cashier at a Whole Foods.
Exposure to lab work did not dim his affection for science.
His immediate answer is “research” when asked if he will join a track. And anesthesia
is almost as quickly offered when asked about potential specialties.
“It’s my understanding that they don’t really know how
anesthesia works down to the molecular level. They know that certain amounts do
certain things to certain people, but it’s almost like magic. When you think
about it, they do some pretty amazing things. They bring people up to the point
of death and keep them there until the surgeon is done with the procedure.”
The long wait for medical school is over, and for Montejano,
22, it couldn’t come quickly enough. He attended Second
Look Day even though he knew CU was his choice.
“I met 12 students, and we pegged ourselves as the ones who
couldn’t wait to get started. We did all the optional activities, we did the
lecture, we did all the extra tours including the cooking demo at the Wellness
“My first night at my apartment at 21 Fitz (next to Anschutz
Medical Campus) I didn’t have anything but a blanket and pillow. I was to ready
to begin feeling the magic. I knew I needed to get a bed and everything, but
for that one night, it started to feel like I belonged here.”