As children, lots of young boys dream of growing up to be like their heroes. They want to become a policeman or a firefighter or the second baseman of the Houston Astros. Daniel Solis grew up with similar big dreams, and they revolved around the heroes he was around the most as a child – pediatricians.
The 19-year-old Ray High School graduate was born with Marfan Syndrome, causing an aortic enlargement in his heart. Daniel has had four heart surgeries, which not only saved his life, they also opened his eyes for his career path.
“I love medicine,” Daniel said. “I’ve seen what the pediatricians and heart surgeons have done for my life - not only the actual procedures they’ve performed, also the words of encouragement they’ve given me and the hope they’ve spread. I want to be the person that gives children hope. What if there are other kids that feel like I did? I want to be that doctor that gives them the hope that my doctors gave me.”
It’s that kind of outlook on life that helped earn Daniel a Dr. James A. Duff Have a Heart Memorial Scholarship Award. Duff Scholarships are awarded to former and current Driscoll Children’s Hospital patients with plans to go to college. Driscoll Children’s Hospital also gives out Marcia K. Wilcox Scholarships to students who are former Driscoll oncology patients, and Clara Driscoll Spirit Scholarships to some of the hospital’s student volunteers. On Thursday afternoon, Driscoll Children’s Hospital will have a reception to honor all the scholarship recipients at the hospital.
“This means so much to me,” said Daniel, who recently completed his freshman year at Del Mar College and has plans to move on to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “This takes a load off my mind. The scholarship will help me focus more on my studies without worrying as much about coming up with extra money. This scholarship will help me achieve my dream.”
When Daniel was born, he spent six months in the Driscoll Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and underwent two heart procedures. As a 10-year-old, he had an aortic aneurysm and was saved with another surgery. At 16, Daniel had another procedure done to help solve a hemothorax, which is a pleural effusion in which blood accumulates in the pleural cavity.
“Daniel’s story is so powerful,” Medical Director of Driscoll Children’s Heart Center John Brownlee, MD, said. “He was born with a cardiac condition that we’ve helped correct, and he’s had some traumatic experiences that he’s free and clear from now. His physical heart is strong, and emotionally, he’s such a bright light. He’s always smiling, and it’s a thrill to see him as a grown man doing so well in college.”
Daniel credits that positive attitude to Dr. Brownlee and the staff at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
“I’m a very positive person; I guess that’s one thing people always say about me,” Daniel said. “It’s a miracle I’m alive. I stay positive, because I don’t want to give up on my dreams. I want to do well in college, and I want to be a successful person. I want to become a pediatrician and help children the same way all my doctors have helped me.”
Dr. James A. Duff Have a Heart Memorial Scholarship Recipients
Alejandro Castro, PSJA North High School
Dylan Grahmann, Hallettsville Sacred Heart High School
Daniel Solis, Ray High School, Del Mar College
Marcia K. Wilcox Scholarship Recipients
Johnathan DeAses, Kingsville High School
Kassandra Dougherty, University of Texas-Pan American
Janette Lopez, Brownsville Veterans Memorial High School
Christopher Maldonado, San Antonio Clark High School
Jubilation Waite, Gregory-Portland High School
Clara Driscoll Spirit Scholarship Recipients
Keyanna Ortiz-Cedeno, Gregory-Portland High School
Elizabeth Cortinas, Collegiate High School
Nora Rodriguez Cruz, Moody High School
Gabrielle Lencioni, Carroll High School
Yasmin Mohamoud, King High School
Nicole Rodriguez, John Paul II High School
Rhiannon Rodriguez, Collegiate High School
Geneva Salinas, Moody High School
Brandi Wenzel, Carroll High School
Olivia Whitehurst, Flour Bluff High School