Nyack senior wrestler James Giraldez now knows his future lies in medicine and being a physician’s assistant. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that this week’s Journal News Rockland Scholar-Athlete of the Week winner was directed to a road he hadn’t seen.
His guidance counselor, Raquel DaCosta, recommended Giraldez volunteer for the Congers-Valley Cottage Ambulance Corps — something previously he hadn’t thought about.
“I knew you had to be 18 years old in the state of New York to be an EMT,” Giraldez said. “It was in the back of my head as something to do in college, but I wasn’t aware that Congers had a youth corps. I checked it out and I’ve been riding with them since late December, early January, a couple of years ago. It’s really cool because you get to go out on calls. You help a lot with transporting patients. It’s definitely a good start to see how patient care works.”
He came to realizehis time with the corps could count as practical hours for being a physician’s assistant. His time influenced Giraldez to get his EMT license.
“One of my biggest motivations for being a physician assistant is being able to help people, to have a skill set that I can use to change people’s lives,” Giraldez said. “Just going out and helping people if they broke their wrist and they need to get to the hospital, even that little difference is something I want to do.”
Giraldez said two of his major influences for wanting to help people are his father, Officer Ernesto Giraldez of the New Castle Police Department, and his mother, Melissa Giraldez, a labor and delivery nurse at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut.
“Seeing how their professions serve the betterment of other people, I just felt they were honorable professions,” Giraldez said. “When I decided to pursue medicine a few years ago, I understood that it’s a very flexible profession. I like the idea of being a physician assistant because it allows for flexibility.”
Giraldez, who is also the student-body president and a member of Students Opposing Starvation, will look to take his 4.0 grade-point average to a school with a combined bachelor’s/master’s program for physician’s assistant — Quinnipiac, Rochester Institute of Technology or Drexel.
In the 145-pound weight class, Giraldez had a 22-3 record going into Friday’s match against Suffern. He won titles at the Michael O’Connell tournament at Pearl River and the Scarsdale tournament.