Oscar Cazares Oscar Cazares, UTRGV Post-Baccalaureate Student and Research Assistant with a Psychology and Biology Bachelor’s Degree

Leading With Success: Multi-Award-Winning First-Generation Student Graduates

By The Division of Research

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – In Fall 2021, student Oscar Cazares, graduated summa cum laude with a dual degree in Psychology and Biology and a Medical Humanities minor. Throughout his educational path at UTRGV, Cazares has made a remarkable impact among the premedical body as proven by his numerous local, national, and international awards and leadership roles in important organizations including the American Medical Student Association.

“Oscar Cazares stands out as a unique and gifted young man… he led the Brownsville chapter of AMSA to national recognition and essentially put UTRGV on the national map as an outstanding student organization.   He accomplished not once, but twice, in those 3 years, achieving recognition as the best small (less than 100 students) Premedical AMSA chapter nationally,” said Dr. Marguerite DeWitt, Criminal Justice lecturer and former faculty advisor of the ASMA RGV Chapter.

According to the American Medical Student Association, (AMSA) was established in 1950. The organization is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. ASMA’s members consist of over 30,000 current members and over 350,000 alumni ranging from medical students, premedical students, interns, residents, and practicing physicians.

In April 2017, Cazares successfully ran for the presidency of the 2017-2018 American Medical Student Association Chapter at UTRGV, now known as the AMSA RGV Chapter. His campaign’s purpose was to revive the organization; he understood the revival efforts would pivot the recruitment of charitable, diligent members, who would ultimately successfully operate the organization. To accomplish his campaign purpose, Cazares and the then few existing AMSA Executive Officers participated in a series of recruitment events in the summer and fall of 2017.


In the 2017-2018 academic year, Cazares organized over 60 leadership meetings for executive planning of community service and the development of scholarship activities. The scholarship activities included guest speaker presentations, a Clinical Pathological Correlation (CPC) series, and a Medical Journal Series. The guest speakers comprised people from the healthcare field.

The community service events included visits to local nursing homes to provide recreational activities, such as Lotería and painting, to the residents. AMSA’s major service accomplishment in Fall 2017, took place in Be the Match—a program under the National Marrow Donor Program. Led by Cazares, the ASMA RGV Chapter members helped register potential marrow donors.  The ASMA RGV Chapter successfully registered the highest number of potential marrow donors, and thus received the Donor Commitment Challenge Award for two consecutive days.


In 2017, as part of his presidential campaign mission, Cazares decided to carry out two large-scale service events: Autism Awareness Day for the UTRGV student body, and the Diabetes Prevention Community Health Fair for the surrounding community.

Autism Awareness Day involved over three months of planning; Cazares established an AMSA committee to be in charge of the event in which he served as the Committee Chair. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about autism, mental health, and disabilities, as well as raise funds for the Moody Clinic—a non-profit outpatient pediatric rehabilitation facility for children with special needs.

Read the UTRGV Rider coverage here: https://www.utrgvrider.com/light-it-up-blue/

To fulfill Cazares’s campaign promises, he also successfully established an AMSA committee for the Diabetes Prevention Community Health Fair to promote awareness of the risks of diabetes, educate the public about option treatments, and provide free health screening services.


At the 2017-2018 UTRGV Student Leader Recognition Ceremony, AMSA received the Service Project of the Year Award for their Diabetes Prevention Community Health Fair, the Most Outstanding Event or Program on Campus Award for their Autism Awareness Day event, and the Social Fostering of Leadership Award for promoting leadership opportunities for “the organization members, the campus, and the community,” as stated by the UTRGV’s Center for Student Involvement.

The experience, networking, and knowledge gained by certain members in the 2017-2018 school year paved their way to be the following ASMA RGV Chapter officers. In the Fall of 2018, the new officers once again led the AMSA members in nursing home events, Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and Be the Match.

In January 2019, Cazares once again returned to his leadership role as an ASMA committee chair for the Autism Awareness Day event. Cazares provided support and commended the new officers to apply for the Paul R. Wright Chapter Success Award—a nomination for the informal title of “Best Small AMSA Premedical Chapter in the Nation,” which is bestowed during AMSA’s Convention & Exposition.

The Convention was held in March 2019. The AMSA RGV Chapter was one of the 5 Chapters to be nationally recognized with the annual Paul R. Wright Chapter Success Award at the Convention.

Read Asma.org announcement: https://www.amsa.org/people/oscar-cazares/

In the summer of 2020, Cazares was inducted as an AMSA student advisor and served the AMSA RGV Chapter in making other people aware of disabilities. Consequently, Cazares, in the middle of the pandemic, founded a virtual disability campaign designed to inform U.S. college students about disabilities and promote potential accommodations used in higher education. The social media campaign involved literature research, interviews, surveys, and the production and dissemination of informative video modules.

During the 2021 AMSA Convention and Exposition, the AMSA RGV Chapter won the Best Poster honor in the Chapter Activities category for their campaign. As undergraduates, the AMSA RGV chapter members competed against other schools including the University of Illinois College of Medicine (Chicago), New York Medical College, and the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine.

At the 2020-2021 UTRGV Student Leader Recognition Ceremony, the AMSA RGV Chapter won the Virtual Program of the Year Award for the campaign as well as the Diversity and Inclusion Award.

Read the UTRGV Newsrooms article: https://www.utrgv.edu/newsroom/2021/06/11-virtual-team-gets-virtual-win-utrgvs-amsa-student-chapter-wins-poster-competition-at-national-convention.htm.

Cazares’s dedication for service culminated in an invited talk at UTRGV’s Civic Engagement Alliance’s 2021 State of the RGV Conference, where he discussed his long history in AMSA and offered advice to other premedical students.

Cazares’s continued contributions to education have categorized him as a revolutionary leader by UTRGV faculty.

“What is so interesting about Oscar is that his inspiration and leadership appear to be innate, having become apparent at such an early age.  It has been fascinating to watch his progress.  He has clearly demonstrated that he has all that it takes to make major contributions to the medical field in ways that motivate all of us to higher levels of knowledge and awareness,” said Dr. DeWitt.

Cazares continues his education at UTRGV and is now serving as a National Leader of AMSA.

“This school year, I continue my education at UTRGV as a post-baccalaureate student. I plan to obtain certain political science and public administration credentials before attending medical school. My ultimate goal is to take on leadership roles in charitable international organizations through which I wish to provide free medical services to the indigent in developing countries, as well as strive for the improvement of the countries’ public health systems through advocacy for policy change,” Cazares said.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.