image of 2019 Hector Garcia winner

Incorporating empathy, cultural competence in medicine

Oct 16, 2019, 19:34 PM by Stephen Hadley

Image of Amy Ngo this year's winner of the Hector P. Garcia M.D. award Amy Ngo, a second-year occupational therapy student, was named the winner of the 2019 Hector P. Garcia M.D. Cultural Competence Award during Oct. 11 luncheon. 

This year’s event marked the 23rd anniversary of the essay contest and awards ceremony. The program, sponsored by the Office of the President and the Hispanic Center of Excellence, recognizes a student “who demonstrates commitments to providing quality health care to all by incorporating cultural competence in his or her service to others.” 

The award is named in honor of Garcia, who graduated from the UTMB School of Medicine in 1940, and became well known throughout Texas and the U.S. as a trailblazer in the fight for civil rights for Mexican-Americans in Texas. Garcia’s efforts contributed greatly to improving access to health care for minorities and ending segregation in Texas hospitals. 

“He believed everyone, regardless of their ethnicity or socioeconomic status, had a right to an education,” said Dr. Ben G. Raimer, UTMB’s president ad interim. “And that no one should be denied access to health care for any reason. His list of accomplishments is long, but ultimately, Dr. Garcia symbolizes everything UTMB has stood for since its founding. 

“His legacy lives on and continues to inspire us, especially our students who have been drawn to the pursuit of health care out of a desire to serve.” 

The luncheon, attended by members of the Garcia family, also featured a keynote speech by Dr. Rafael Antonio Fonseca, an associate professor of Pediatrics in the division of Neonatology where he teaches medical, physician assistant and nursing students, pediatric residents and neonatology fellows. He also serves as the medical director of UTMB’s Neonatal Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program and is chief of staff and chair of the Medical Staff Executive Committee. 

“Through his work treating critically ill infants and researching hyperbilirubinemia and gastroschisis, Dr. Fonseca exemplifies and embodies the same dedication Dr. Garcia had for improving the lives of others,” Raimer said in introducing Fonseca. 

For more information on the life of Garcia, visit