Health care is a calling, but it is also a business. As a board-certified emergency medicine physician with a master’s degree in business administration, Carolina Mendoza ’13 has a unique skill set that allows her to serve her patients with compassion and care while advocating and leading change in the health care system.

Kerry Bruns, professor emeritus of chemistry, recognized Mendoza’s potential early. After qualifying to participate in his accelerated general chemistry course in her first semester at Southwestern, Mendoza went on to be the top grade-earner in the course, as well as the top-grade earner in Bruns’s second-semester biochemistry course.

“Carolina also chose to do a research project in my lab for her capstone requirement. I was very happy about that because I knew how eager she was to learn and that she would quickly acquire laboratory skills that would build on the skills she had already developed in her classes,” Bruns said. “It was easy for me to write a letter of recommendation for Carolina’s application to medical schools. I had firsthand knowledge of her dedication to her studies, about how her words and actions indicated that she was an empathetic person, and that her manner with others was always professional.”

Mendoza was a biochemistry major and Spanish minor at Southwestern, where she received the American Chemical Society Award for Outstanding Graduating Senior. She went on to get her M.D. from McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, earning the Best Senior Grand Rounds Award. She then completed her residency in emergency medicine at McGovern Medical School, followed by a fellowship in administration and leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Emergency Medicine. She served as an attending physician, clinical instructor and assistant medical director and earned her executive M.B.A. from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School while completing her fellowship.

In November 2022, Mendoza joined the University of Maryland School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine as an attending physician and assistant professor. She oversees and directs the care of acutely ill patients in an emergency department located in a medically underserved area that has more than 30,000 patient visits per year. She also teaches different facets of emergency medicine to resident physicians and medical students.

Mendoza strives to better herself and those around her. While in medical school she participated in two medical mission trips to underserved areas in Guatemala, serving patients who came from miles away to receive care. Physician assistant Anne Ervine met Mendoza while serving as a preceptor for one of those trips.

We have now been on three missions to Guatemala together and will likely go on more in the future,” Ervine says. “Both in Guatemala and in the emergency department, Carolina contributes to the well-being of humanity through educating her patients on disease processes and caring for her patients and her community. She is an amazing person and physician.”

Mendoza is particularly interested in increasing the efficacy of business operations in a medical environment using digitization and improving the patient experience. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in healthcare consulting and digitization where she can merge her knowledge of medicine and contemporary business practices to lead the health care system through the next phase of technological innovation.

My life has been enriched by interactions with many students,” Bruns says. “Some have had a greater positive effect on my own attitudes and worldview than others. Carolina is one of a few students who have had the greatest positive influence on my hope for the future.”

For her ongoing professional success and embodiment of Southwestern’s core values, the Southwestern University Alumni Association is proud to honor Carolina Mendoza with the Distinguished Young Alumna Award.