Motivated by experience, Platt valedictorian hopes for medical career

MERIDEN — Edrik Morales Rosa is a few weeks away from crossing the graduation stage at Platt High School. His future is clearly in focus. Morales Rosa wants to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.

It’s a speciality that Morales Rosa explained is focused on the heart and lungs. Morales Rosa will graduate from Platt number one in his class. Next fall he heads to the University of Connecticut, where he will study chemistry initially.

The 18-year-old said he’s known since middle school that he would like to pursue a career in the medical field.

That passion was confirmed by a medical careers class Morales Rosa took earlier in high school. Upon completing that class, Morales Rosa and his classmates all completed and passed exams that allowed them to be licensed as certified nursing assistants.

The class involved clinical rotations in a local nursing care facility. Morales Rosa said helping the elderly, “being a little bit of the community — that boosted my morale. It also increased my liking for the medical field, because there’s this sense of ease when you’re helping others.”

In fact, when Morales Rosa spoke with a Record-Journal reporter, he frequently referenced his desire to help others as a primary motivation for his career choice.

“It may sound really simple, really cliche, but I like helping people,” Morales Rosa said, adding he also wants to help change what he feels is a misperception of Latino people in general. “I want to show the world what we’re capable of,” he said.

Morales Rosa said his biggest motivation is his own mother.

Dominican roots

Morales Rosa’s journey did not begin in Meriden. It actually began in San Cristóbal in the Dominican Republic, where Morales Rosa was born.

His family subsequently moved to Añasco, Puerto Rico, and eventually relocated to Connecticut, in Meriden.

Morales Rosa explained that in the Dominican Republic, significant segments of the country’s population still struggle to earn enough money for food and basic essentials.

Morales Rosa and his immediate family left when he was three years old. He still has extended family there, and visited around Holy Week this year.

Morales Rosa’s mother graduated from college in the Dominican Republican, where around 18% of adults have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“She worked. She always provided,” Morales Rosa said, adding that another motivation for his pursuit of the medical field is because it’s a career his mother wanted to go into, but couldn’t start. “She got her degree in business administration. The main thing was medicine, though, for sure.”

Morales Rosa said he first learned that story in middle school. It’s motivated him ever since.

“My mom, she’s done so much for me. I want to show her that even if she wasn’t capable in her country, we have a new chance here. And I want to show her that I’m capable and that I can make it. That I’m able to complete the mission that she was never able to complete for her,” he said.

Morales Rosa said he hopes to dive immediately into research projects, similar to an anti-malaria project that he already participates in, once he begins his studies at UConn.

He has his eyes set toward continuing his studies at one of the nation’s elite medical schools. And he recognizes that as someone who is bilingual, he already brings a skill to medicine that is lacking — the ability to translate for others.

‘Incredibly curious’

While at Platt, Morales Rosa did more than just focus on academics. He competed in SkillsUSA, and he competed in both of his school’s indoor and outdoor track teams, in the javelin and long jump events. He was also a member of his school’s DECA club.

Morales Rosa described learning a few weeks ago he will finish his high school career ranked first in his class academically as a “flabbergasting moment.”

But his educators don’t seem at all surprised.

Platt Science teacher Tim Sweigard, who taught Morales Rosa in a UConn Early College Experience course that combines medical terminology and an introduction to the allied health professions, described Morales Rosa as “a leader in his class for sure.”

“He is just incredibly curious and thinks differently. That’s going to serve him well at the next level,” Sweigard said.

Plus, Morales Rosa has “all of the other intangible qualities that will serve him well down the road,” Sweigard said.

Sweigard said his first real introduction to Morales Rosa was during an awards ceremony a year earlier. His family was in attendance, and he was left with a lasting memory of how proud Morales Rosa’s father was to see his son receive award after award.

Sweigard described Morales Rosa as having a tremendous work ethic. “He’s not afraid to ask questions.”

Platt Principal Daniel Corsetti said he’s had the “honor of knowing” Morales Rosa since he was a sixth grade student at Washington Middle School. Corsetti was assistant principal at the time.

“Even then, the level of kindness and respect for others, as well as his attention to his work, was notable. I am so proud of the person he is becoming, and I am excited to see what his next chapter brings,” Corsetti said.

Morales Rosa’s desire to pursue medicine also stems from his own experience having been treated for medical conditions through his own life. The medical staff who treated him, he said, “give their 100%.”

“That’s what I want to do in my life. I want to give my 100% to people even if I don’t know them,” he said. “Because maybe they might not be receiving that in other setting… It’s always nice for somebody to have somebody, that kind of person — even if you don’t know them — care about you. People want to be cared for.”



More From This Section