SLOCOMB, Ala. (WTVY) - A Slocomb High School junior, Edwin Olea, has made it into an elite group.
He is one of just 25 chosen for the University of Alabama’s Rural Health Scholars Program.
When WTVY Reporter Zach Wilcox asked, "(Where do you see yourself ten years from now?" Edwin replied, "I want to be a cardio-thoracic surgeon."
At just 16-years-old, Edwin Olea has already determined he wants to become a heart specialist.
Of course, med school is a long journey, so Edwin decided to get started this summer.
He's earned a spot in the rural health scholars program at the University of Alabama.
"We're going to be taking seminars and field trips to learn about rural health,” said Olea.
The program takes rising seniors from rural areas, like Slocomb, and pays for their tuition room and board while they get a firsthand look into the medical field.
The idea is that those students will take what they learn and bring it back home.
"I think one of the things he wants to do is to be able to go and expand his horizons and learn and to be able to help in our community,” said Slocomb High School Principal B.T. Hinson. “I think that's the biggest thing. He has a huge heart and he wants to come back and help people."
No one would be happier to see local students coming back to work in the medical field than Wiregrass Medical Center CEO Jeff Brannon.
"We need to grow our own,” said Brannon. “I've always felt like even it's a physician, a nurse, a radiology technician, whatever it is, any exposure we can get them regarding their career path."
Jeff Brannon said he's familiar with the Rural Health Scholars Program and is happy it's a requirement for the students to practice in a rural setting.
"It is, maybe not as fast paced as the big city, but then the other piece of it is, people know you by your first name, you're probably going to participate in your children's activities as they grow up,” said Brannon.
It may be awhile before we see Edwin in scrubs, but when we do, it will be saving lives right here in the Wiregrass.