Is this Port Coquitlam grad the next Doogie Howser?

Student accepted into program that will get her into medical school at the tender age of 19

You could say Karolina Mastalerz-Sanchez is in a hurry, but she has a good reason.

The graduating Riverside secondary school student wants to be a doctor so badly she has spent months qualifying for a special program that will allow her to apply to medical school after only two years of undergraduate study.

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Recently, Mastalerz-Sanchez was accepted into the Queens University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS), in Kingston, Ont.

Is the Port Coquitlam grad the next Doogie Howser?

Like the fictional surgeon from the 1990s’ comedy sitcom, Mastalerz-Sanchez is on her way to being a doctor at a very young age.

“It’s cutting down two years of my undergraduate degree and that means I’m saving two years of money as well but also getting two years extra closer to a medical career. I would be in medical school at 19 years of age,”  she told The Tri-City News last week.

But it wasn’t easy getting accepted into the program. To qualify, Mastalerz-Sanchez had to have good grades — an average of 90% or more — and be nominated by her high school.

The Coquitlam teen also works in a related field, working with special needs students with Kidsfirst Physio's and Tidal Wave Aquatics, which offers pool physiotherapy at Hyde Creek rec centre in Port Coquitlam.

“It’s a very important job,” Mastalerz-Sanchez said. “Not a lot of people can say they feel they are making a difference at such young age.”

She was chosen one of only 10 high school students from across the country to participate, and the only student from B.C. While at QuARMS, Mastalerz-Sanchez will take five university courses as well as extra courses to help her hone her skills in advocacy, communication, collaboration and professionalism.

Successful students then receive a medical degree from Queen’s University in a reduced timeframe.

If Mastalerz-Sanchez succeeds in her goal of becoming a doctor, she will one day qualify to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders — maybe with her mom, who is a nurse — and continue her dream of helping others.

“She inspired me to do that," Mastalerz-Sanchez said. "It’s to give back to the world, that’s essentially I want to do.”

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