Biology major on track to be youngest CNAS graduate
Nathan Paz, a 17-year-old biology major at the University of Guam, is on track to become the youngest ever graduate from the College of Natural & Applied Sciences. He plans to complete his degree at the age of 19 in May 2024.
And while it’s not a first in the university overall, completing a four-year degree by the age of 19 is a rarity, said Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness Deborah Leon Guerrero, who oversees the university’s data.
Paz’s accelerated path started in the 2nd grade in El Paso, Texas, where he completed the requirements for both 2nd and 3rd grade in the same school year.
Later, while attending high school in Guam, he was able to accelerate his academics even further by completing extra credit hours, allowing him to skip his junior year. He took his first UOG class at age 14 under the Dual Enrollment Program while attending Tiyan High School. He graduated from high school in 2020 at age 15 and enrolled full-time at UOG that fall.
His career path is no less ambitious. Studying under the bio-medical track of the Bachelor of Science in Biology program at UOG, Paz aspires to pursue medical school and to serve the population of Guam as a doctor.
“My early exposure to the medical field came from my mother, who works as a physician assistant,” Paz said. “I spent a lot of time in my early childhood shadowing her clinics, and I was really interested in the operations within the medical field.”
He has found a diverse range of opportunities to gain medical experience and enhance his resumé for medical school and pre-medical school program applications.
Paz is a volunteer with the American Red Cross and the Todu Guam Foundation. He is also an AmeriCorps member under the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, where he helps manage the COVID-19 testing clinic for unvaccinated hospital employees and assists in the planning of education initiatives and trainings related to disaster preparedness and emergency management. He is also an active member of the premedical chapter of the American Medical Student Association and the Chemistry Club at UOG.
“I am grateful for all the experiences I’ve had throughout my college journey,” he
said, highlighting one job shadowing opportunity, in particular, through the Health
Opportunities & Medical Exposure nonprofit program. “I shadowed Dr. Delores Lee of
the Evergreen Health Center and learned the importance of knowing your patients beyond
Over the summer, he volunteered with the Spay and Neuter Island Pets community clinic. With the goal to decrease the stray animal population in Guam, the outreach event provided Paz with 75 volunteer hours, assisting with the intake of clients, preparing surgical kits, and performing post-surgical recovery procedures.
“Nathan does not let the fact that he is the youngest individual in his cohort affect his work ethic,” said Elizabeth Valencia, an assistant biology instructor. “He is determined, respectful, and down-to-earth during laboratory meetings and outside of it.”
Paz is in the process of looking for post-baccalaureate opportunities and additional volunteer and professional opportunities to gain exposure to the medical field. Meanwhile, he's enjoying his undergraduate experience at UOG.
He said his professors and the CNAS-affiliated student organizations, like the American Medical Student Association, the Biology Club, and the Chemistry Club have provided him with numerous networking opportunities and have allowed him to apply to various mentorship programs and internships.
“I feel connected and close with many of my peers, and there is never a dull moment here,” Paz said. “The learning environment is extremely supportive of me, especially from the staff at CNAS.”