Inspiring graduation story: First-Generation and Legacy student George Fakes heads to Medical School

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at 10:01pm UTC

Houston, Texas, April 24, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- At UST-Houston’s commencement in May, first-generation college graduate George Fakes ’24 will be wearing his recognizable joy-of-life smile as the medical-school-bound Biology major follows in the footsteps of his accomplished older sisters, both distinguished alumni of the Celt community. His siblings, Stephanie Fakes ’18 and Nicole Fakes ’20, also majored in Biology and went to pharmacy school and medical school respectively.

“All three of us are first generation students from immigrant parents,” George said. “Both my parents did everything they could to ensure their kids could live strong and successful lives, and they raised us to become the best versions of ourselves.”

Developing as a Leader

Fakes found an equally supportive ethos at the University of St. Thomas-Houston. He said his “wonderful” experience facilitated personal growth.

Grateful for what he has learned, the young man reflected, “With the help of many advisors and mentors from the Biology Department, I was able to learn who I was and the type of leader I want to be.”

Demonstrating his leadership skills, Fakes served as president of Tri Beta, the biology honor society, and dedicated himself to mentoring and tutoring fellow biology students. He spearheaded impactful service projects — in one of them, which involved 3D printing, he raised nearly $20,000 for Giving Tuesday. On another occasion, he created a university-wide drive, donating more than 500 toys to hospitalized children. And finally, he created a mentorship program with Houston’s foster care system to help high schoolers understand the journey of pursuing a higher education.

Mastering Academic Rigor

Attracted to the field of medicine, the future doctor feels well prepared to tackle the next leg of his academic journey: UTMB Medical School where he has been accepted.

“The Biology Department at UST has prepared me very well for the difficult and rigorous curriculum I will see in medical school,” he said.

But he knew that before he ever enrolled at UST, having witnessed the success of his sisters here.

Gratified to have Selected the Right University

“One of the major aspects that drew me to UST was seeing my sisters come here! My family would visit all the time, and I grew up looking up to both of my sisters as key role models for becoming the person I am today. Seeing their success and experience at UST opened my eyes to a school I was not even considering before. From there, I fell in love with the STEM program’s pre-health track, and I could envision myself as a Celt.”

During his transformational time at St. Thomas, Fakes also forged lasting friendships, notably with Daniel Lam ’24, who also is headed to medical school at UTMB.

Fakes added, “The transition into medical school is very tough, so I am very fortunate to have an amazing friend with me, allowing us to experience the transition together as we both continue our academic journeys.”

Dr. Maia Larios-Sanz, Professor and Chair of Biology, said, “Both George and Daniel are great examples of successful students. Both found a way to achieve their goals by working hard and finding a balance between their academics and their extracurricular activities. Neither of them forgot about service to their community, either. We are very proud of their collective achievements, and they are a true testament to their parents and siblings. We expect amazing things from both of them and look forward to seeing what they continue to achieve in their lives. One thing is certain, they will be wonderful ambassadors for our STEM programs at UST.”

Rooted in the religious, ethical and intellectual traditions of higher education at UST, George Fakes has flourished as a well-rounded individual. As he looks ahead, he does so with admirable wisdom.

“In 10 years, I see myself still surrounded by those who mean so much to me, my family and friends. Balancing professional and personal life is crucial to me as I ensure a fulfilling and sustainable career in medicine.”

George Fakes’ triumphant graduation story is one of individual achievement and illustrates the resilience and success of a family’s pursuit of education. 

Commencement 2024 When and Where

UST-Houston Commencement 2024 takes place Saturday, May 11, at 11 a.m., at NRG Stadium, 8400 Kirby Drive. UST commencement celebrates the achievements of 684 undergraduates and 302 graduate students. The Baccalaureate Mass held on Friday, May 10, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and the Commencement the following day will be livestreamed. View the livestream link here.



Chris Zeglin
University of St. Thomas - Houston

George Fakes