Rocio Garcia Quinteros and her parents

Meet Rocio Garcia Quinteros  

  • Specialty: Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN)
  • Fun fact: She is a member of Cheer Los Angeles, a non-profit that supports LGBTQ+ communities 
  • Matched Residency Program: UC Irvine 

Rocio Garcia Quinteros grew up all around Los Angeles. Her parents, immigrants from Mexico City, had welcomed two children before they turned eighteen. They worked hard to thrive with limited means and prioritized the well-being and future success of their children. 

“They're the best parents in the world,” says Rocio, who became interested in medicine at a young age, while translating for her Spanish-speaking family.  

“Me being in medical school is a dream we never thought would be possible, but we just continued to dream, and now it's here.” 

Rocio is the first person in her family to enter the world of higher education, and it took hard work and persistence to get to where she is now. 

“It’s been quite a journey,” she says, explaining that she didn’t get into medical school when she first applied after finishing her undergraduate studies at California State University, Northridge. 

“I did not have any real guidance or mentorship the first time I applied, and it was no shock that I didn't get in. I really didn't know what I was doing.” 

She did, however, get admitted into the UCLA Reapplication Program (RAP), which provided the support she needed to shape a stand-out application. 

“The next time I applied, I was blessed to get into my first choice, the Charles R. Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program.”

She was working as a full-time math and science teacher at a private school when she received her acceptance and felt torn between the excitement of pursuing her medical-school passion and saying goodbye to the students and the school that gave her what she calls the best four years of her life.  

“It was very challenging and heartbreaking, but at the end of the day, they always knew I wanted to go to medical school, and they were just super supportive of me the whole time.” 

Rocio carried the joy, memories, and wisdom she’d gained while teaching with her on the next part of her journey. 

“I don't think I would have been successful in medical school if it wasn't for the intense life training of being a teacher.”

A Day in the Life of a Med Student: Applying to Residency Programs

Rocio felt anxious about applying to residency programs. Navigating her chosen specialty, OB/GYN, had recently become more complex. 

She says the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade added an additional layer of competitiveness to the already competitive field of obstetrics and gynecology, driving applicants interested in family planning to residencies in liberal states. 

“The numbers for how many programs you have to apply to for OB/GYN are just climbing. I ended up applying to 72 programs,” Rocio says. “It added to the anxiety, applying into such a competitive specialty.”

She weathered the anxiety and uncertainty of residency applications with her family by her side.  

“Everyone in my family is just so passionate about my journey. They do whatever they can to help me along, and I could not have done it without them. I know medicine is not just my dream, it’s our dream, and that's really exciting.” 

Rocio Garcia Quinteros during rotations

Looking Back: Memorable Med-School Moments 

Waiting for Match Day, when medical students across the United States learn where they match for residency, Rocio reflected on her medical-school experience — one altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She completed her entire second year of medical school on Zoom, but she says the isolation necessitated by the pandemic made some of her first in-person patient interactions all the more memorable. 

“I think I went over a year before I saw a patient,” she says. 

When she did start rotations at Olive View Medical Center, she felt revitalized. She reconnected with all the reasons she wanted to go to medical school in the first place. 

“I wanted to see patients, specifically under-served patients,” she says. “At Olive View, I had an opportunity to work with a population I care deeply about and identify with.” 

She’ll never forget the rewards of helping those first patients. 

“That connection is really what makes all of this worth it for me.” 

Rocio Garcia Quinteros poses with her husband after her White Coat Ceremony
Rocio poses with her husband after her White Coat Ceremony

Looking Forward: Residency and Beyond   

Rocio matched into an OB/GYN residency program at the University of California, Irvine. 

“I am so excited to be joining the UC Irvine family,” she says. “My dream has always been to stay in Southern California, the place I call home.” 

She’s thrilled to stay close to her family while also fulfilling her overarching passion of healing under-served communities while helping patients with reproductive planning.  

“UC Irvine will be a great place for me to receive the best training while still being able to serve the underserved communities of Long Beach and surrounding areas. Go Anteaters!”