Nolan E. Perez, M.D.
"I can think of no other institution that is doing more for the state of Texas than the UT System," he observes, "but we can always do more."
Giving back. Not only is that an obligation to Nolan E. Perez, M.D., but it was practically part of the curriculum during his time at several UT System institutions. The Rio Grande Valley native admits that leaving a small town to attend UT Austin was going to be a “transformative experience” no matter what, but deeper changes were in store. Beginning at UT Austin, but carrying through his time at UTHSC San Antonio and his residency at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, Dr. Perez both felt and witnessed an increasing “desire to participate in the broader experience of trying to make the world a better place.”
Moved by his leadership experiences in student organizations, the medical school graduate went on to serve his country in the US Navy, receiving Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement medals. After gaining specialty training in Gastroenterology, Dr. Perez returned to the Valley to serve and practice in the community about which he cares so deeply. Inspired by the mentorship of Dr. Mario Ramirez—who himself served the Rio Grande Valley and The University of Texas Board of Regents with incredible distinction—Dr. Perez created the Rio Grande Valley Mentors program, which matches successful community leaders with aspiring high school students. He also serves on several boards in the medical, business, and academic realms, and is a Trustee for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.Dr. Perez is a clear example of how the desire to give back spreads like a wildfire from one generation to the next, leading to a range of positive outcomes for individuals and their communities. “I can think of no other institution that is doing more for the state of Texas than the UT System,” he observes, “but we can always do more.” One significant challenge is ensuring that Texas students perceive that a college education is within reach. Because students are often unwilling or unable to take a chance and move far away to attend school, the UT System must continue to increase its exposure in the disadvantaged and remote communities of this vast state. The goal is to make sure that higher education is within reach, both geographically and culturally. “There is no cookie-cutter school in the UT System,” says Dr. Perez. “Each has its own character. But at the same time, there is no other single school or system that is in a better position to become the driving force in educating and transforming our growing, dynamic and diverse population. Only the UT System can accomplish this.”