Coast Guard Veteran Overcomes Brain Injury, Pursues Biomedical Science Degree to Diversify Medical Field

NORFOLK, Va. – Irv Antonio made a bold decision to leave his Las Vegas home and join the United States Coast Guard after graduating from high school. His journey eventually led him to Hampton Roads, where he experienced a life-altering event while visiting his brother in Washington, DC.

During his visit, Antonio was mugged and suffered serious injuries, including a brain bleed that required emergency surgery. Despite spending several months recovering in the hospital, he was ultimately discharged from the Coast Guard due to the impact of his injuries on his ability to perform his duties.

While the mugging ended Antonio’s military career, it did not deter him from pursuing his education. In the fall of 2022, he enrolled at Old Dominion University with a major in biomedical science. His interest in neurology and neurosurgery, paired with his firsthand experience as a patient, fueled his passion for breaking into the medical field and increasing its diversity.

Understanding the lack of representation for people of color in the medical field, Antonio is determined to make a difference. He emphasizes the importance of encouraging others to strive for positions in the medical field, especially those who are underrepresented.

Antonio’s resilience and determination in the face of adversity serve as an inspiration and a reminder of the ongoing need for diversity within the healthcare industry. He is a testament to the strength and perseverance of individuals who refuse to let obstacles derail their aspirations.