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Julio Montejano

Class of 2017

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 science lab.

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 seizing.

 “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: translator.

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 Center.

“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.”