Joe Gutierrez | CSUSB Office of Strategic Communication | (909) 537-5007 | email@example.com
It’s never too late to chase your dreams – just ask Jeremy Saavedra.
After more than two decades of traveling the roads of Riverside County, San Bernardino County and beyond as a truck driver, Saavedra decided to steer his journey toward the medical field instead.
At age 41, he enrolled in college.
“Going back to a classroom setting was difficult in itself,” said Saavedra, who first studied at Chaffey College before transferring to Cal State San Bernardino as a biology major in fall 2021. “I haven’t been in school for some time, so I was concerned with how I would adapt to school life and how I would relate to other students, most of which are half my age.”
To layer on the challenge, Saavedra is also a first-generation student. “Higher education was not a high priority in my family,” he said, “so making it this far has been awesome.”
Despite the pressures of working full time while meeting the demands of a full-time, first-generation student, Saavedra has persisted, and is on the path to graduate in fall 2023. His goal is to become a physician assistant.
“The combination of my desire to change career fields and wanting to help people led me to the medical field,” he said. “A physician assistant is one of those people that is able to help people who are in need medically. The more I learned about the PA profession, the more I knew that it was the perfect fit for me.”
To further his experience in the medical field and offer a helping hand, Saavedra volunteers with Cope Scholars, an introductory program designed to help individuals engage with hospital personnel and patients. He shadows or assists health care workers with patient care and comfort at a non-medical level.
Saavedra’s passion for helping others is so strong, he also volunteers his time with local organizations, such as City Link Community Outreach in Fontana and the San Bernardino Civic Center Association.
“If I am able to help, then I don’t want to be someone who does nothing,” he confirmed. “I’ve known a lot of people who are hurting or needed some kind of help. I’ve been the person in need of help. We hear stories all the time about people who have a struggle but nobody to turn to. I want to be a person that is available for others to turn to in their time of need.”
Through City Link, he helps with groceries for households in need and assists with events that help the homeless population with things like clothes, haircuts and meals. He also participates in neighborhood cleanups through the San Bernardino Civic Center Association.
And his volunteer service doesn’t stop there. Saavedra is also a notetaker at CSUSB, which requires taking notes for fellow CSUSB students who have disabilities.
Simply put, Saavedra just wants to make a difference.
“I’m just trying to positively impact someone else in hopes that there’s a waterfall effect and it leads to a better community,” he said.
And as a father of three, Saavedra hopes to be a positive role model for his kids, “so that they might push forward through adversity and aspire to be something greater than they thought possible.”
Saavedra credits CSUSB for helping him along his academic journey and supporting him during his career change, acknowledging the attentive professors who have been there for him when he needs extra assistance and Academic Advising for helping him stay on track.
“The entire support system in place here at CSUSB is amazing,” he said, noting the overall positive learning environment. “CSUSB is giving me a solid foundation in regard to my education.”
For anyone who hopes to make a career change, Saavedra encourages them to never give up, because the rewards of happiness will be worth it in the end.
“There’s going to be times when you question what you’re doing – stay with it,” he urges. “Take your educational plan one semester at a time. Before you know it, you will be knocking on graduation’s door. Above all else, as cliché as it may sound, follow your dreams! You’re the only person that has to live your life. Make yourself happy.”
CSUSB is currently developing a 27-month Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) program. Pending a successful accreditation review, the MSPA program will launch in August 2025. Visit csusb.edu/mspa to learn more about the program, including its mission, vision and accreditation status.