By Terry Kanakri, Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente
For Santa Clarita residents Herminia Amezcua and Ivy Semenez, two physicians who are also sisters practicing medicine at Kaiser Permanente in the Antelope Valley, embracing their Hispanic heritage has always been a key success factor in their careers and lives.
As America began recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 15, Amezcua and Semenez say knowing and embracing their Hispanic roots have inspired and helped them achieve their American dream.
“Both of us embrace our identity and rich Hispanic culture with pride,” said Amezcua, who’s an OB/GYN physician. “Our philosophy is to never forget your roots and the individuals who’ve contributed to shaping you into who you are. Work hard to give back to your community, recognizing the role your heritage has played in your development. By combining hard work, cultural pride and a commitment to uplifting those around you, you’ll chart a successful path that goes far beyond yourself.”
Semenez, a primary care physician, attributed the embrace of Hispanic cultural pride and heritage to the two sisters’ parents, who were born in Mexico, arrived in the U.S. as teenagers, married, were humble, and worked hard to provide for their five daughters, all of whom are college graduates and hold successful jobs.
“Initially, our parents both worked in factory jobs,” Semenez said. “My mom went from sewing dresses in a factory to working in a dry cleaner. Later in life, seeing that her daughters were getting a higher education, she went back to school and became a preschool teacher. My father worked from the bottom up, starting as a machine operator before becoming a mechanical engineer for a well-known zipper company. But although I and my siblings were all born in L.A. County, we never lost track of our Hispanic heritage. I attribute that to the love and caring of our parents.”
Semenez and Amezcua share similar reasons as to what motivated them to become physicians: a strong belief in giving back to their community and making sure everyone is provided high-quality care regardless of their background.
“For me, I remember when I was little and how my mother went many years being undiagnosed with Lupus,” Semenez recalled. “As a child, I would accompany her to multiple doctor’s visits, trying to figure out what was wrong with her, sometimes serving as a translator. I could see the challenges and obstacles she would face just to get medical care. That’s why, as a physician at Kaiser Permanente, I’m committed to providing the best care I can to all my patients, no matter who they are or what their background is.”
Amezcua said witnessing a high rate of teenage pregnancy within her community made her determined to become an OB/GYN physician and use her medical career to empower young women and break the cycle.
“Ultimately, my motivation to become a doctor stemmed from a genuine desire to help people in my community and contribute positively to their well-being, as well as the well-being of all my patients,” she said.
Amezcua and Semenez hope they can serve as role models for young Hispanics who are striving to achieve the American dream, just as they did.
“To young Hispanics aspiring for success in life, I would emphasize the importance of prioritizing education,” Amezcua said. “Dedicate yourself to studying diligently and working tirelessly, and your efforts will inevitably yield rewarding outcomes.”
Semenez echoed a similar opinion.
“Commit yourself to an education,” she said. “Study hard and break the cycle. Don’t be afraid to apply to a good college, scholarships, a good job, leadership positions, etc. We may think we’re not good enough to satisfy all these requirements, but we are. You have nothing to lose by applying and taking that leap of faith. The sky’s the limit if we commit ourselves to achievable goals. Never give up.”