Joseph Nicholas Polanco
University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine
3rd Year Medical Student
Currently a third-year medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Nick Polanco was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and moved to Miami, Florida when he was 3 years old. As an immigrant, Mr. Polanco always carried with him his parents’ resilience, perseverance, and work ethic. He was taught from an early age to treat others with respect and compassion which, coupled with his interest in science, led him to pursue a career in medicine. While studying at Florida State University, he led STEM initiatives that focused on providing local and global underserved communities with education, resources, and medical supplies. Mr. Polanco then furthered his education by completing a Masters in Anatomy at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Now, as a medical student, Mr. Polanco has become a leader in community advocacy. As an Urban Medicine Program scholar, he works as a mentor to 28 Hispanic/Latino high school students in the greater Chicago area to provide lectures in college, professional, and medical advancement. Additionally, as a Craig Fellow, he works with the UIC Institute for Minority Health Research and is conducting research in cardiovascular disease for the largest cohort of Hispanic participants ever recruited. Lastly, as an NMF Primary Care Leadership Program scholar, Mr. Polanco worked with Howard Brown, a Federally Qualified Health Center, to learn and provide community-focused care for the LGBTQ+ community in the Chicagoland area. Mr. Polanco plans to continue his lifelong mission of mentorship, advocacy, and equity for the underserved as a future physician and community leader.