We here at In the Loop love a story with a happy ending. (We have a hunch you do, too.) And it's hard to find a story with a happier ending than that of Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D. Dr. Q, as he's affectionately known to his patients at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, is not only chair of the Department of Neurologic Surgery but also spearheading NIH-funded research to cure brain cancer. He recently told News4Jax that he believes he is "destined" to find a cure for the disease.
It would have been nearly impossible to predict any of that based on Dr. Q's humble beginnings. Born in a small village outside of Mexicali, Mexico, Dr. Q started working at just 5 years old to help with his family's expenses. When he finished school, he knew he wanted something more. And he believed the something he wanted — opportunity, hope for a better life — lay to the north. So when he was 19, he jumped a border fence and came to the United States. He spoke no English, had no documents, and had very little money in his pocket.
But like so many others who'd crossed the border before him, Dr. Q did have two things that were more important: drive and a dream. He began working toward that dream in the fields of California's San Joaquin Valley, picking tomatoes and grapes, cantaloupe and cotton. He also worked as a painter and a welder, and earned enough money to begin classes at a community college, where he studied English and joined the debate team to practice his language skills. Three years later, his hard work paid off when he received a scholarship to continue his education at the University of California, Berkeley. From there, it was on to Harvard Medical School and eventually, to prestigious positions at Johns Hopkins and now, Mayo Clinic. Along the way, Dr. Q also became a U.S. citizen.
For a long time, Dr. Q didn't speak openly about his roots. "I knew the stereotype and the way people felt sometimes about people like me who came from humble beginnings," he recently told Florida's First Coast News. But over the years, he began sharing his story, and eventually even wrote a book about his journey. Now, when people ask about his heritage, "I say I am Mexican and I am American," Dr. Q tells the station. "Mexican, in the sense that's where my roots come from and American, because I feel like this country opened its doors [and] welcomed me."
If you think that sounds like a story tailor-made for Hollywood, you're not alone. None other than Disney and Brad Pitt's Plan B production company are working on a movie about Dr. Q's life. He says his is a story that's bigger than just one person. "The movie is not about me," he tells WJCT. "It's about the American dream. It's about the people who have believed in me. I believe this movie is about the power of never losing hope." (Spoiler alert: Hollywood likes a happy ending, too.)
If you can't wait for the movie, you can learn more about Dr. Q now by visiting his website and Facebook page. And remember that we're always ready for your reviews (glowing, we can only assume) in the comments below. You can use the social media tools to share this story with others.