EVMS Magazine  |  14.1  |  Our Global DNA Feature

EVMS Magazine  |  14.1  |  Our Global DNA Feature

I fell in love with the work.

Gerardo Cruz Garza, MS
(Reproductive Clinical Science ’21)

Senior Embryologist, Kofinas Fertility Group, New York, N.Y.

Tamaulipas, Mexico

Gerardo Cruz Garza, MS, played many roles for his family when they arrived in the U.S. in 2000 from a small town in Mexico. At five, he was assisting loved ones who did not speak English with errands and medical visits as the family settled into their American life, first in Texas and then in North Carolina.

“I had to grow up fast, but I also had a lot of help along the way,” says Mr. Cruz Garza. “It’s a common experience for children of immigrants: Your parents don’t speak the language, don’t understand the education system, so you rely on help from teachers and friends. I had a lot of great teachers and mentors along the way.”

Mr. Cruz Garza earned a scholarship to Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he served as president of a program that helps undocumented and first-generation college students. Helping people make their dreams come true was still on Mr. Garza’s mind when he became an embryologist in 2017.

“I fell in love with the work,” says Mr. Garza. “I like that I can track my progress in the lab and see my techniques improve all while making a difference in our patients’ lives.”

Mr. Cruz Garza wanted to further his career with an advanced degree, but taking time off to return to school was not an option. “Most immigrant families don’t have generational wealth to rely on — mine doesn’t,” he says. “It’s a lot of pressure. You’re trying to create some financial security, not only for yourself and future generations but for previous generations, too.”

When a coworker mentioned EVMS’ Reproductive Clinical Science program, Mr. Cruz Garza saw a way to achieve his educational goals without leaving his job.

“EVMS was one of the only programs that offered a distance program for professional embryologists,” he says. “I could continue earning an income and building my skills while getting more education.”

Eventually, Mr. Cruz Garza hopes to help expand access to IVF services to more families, not just those who can afford it. After all, he says, having a dream isn’t just for the privileged.

“Even though I don’t interact directly with our patients, from their charts and files, I learn something about them,” he says. “It’s important for me to connect with them, to understand how determined they are to make a family — that’s what I’m working for.”

Read more magazine stories from issue 14.1 or read stories from past issues.