Graves’ disease leads UHV student to choose medical profession

Alicia Fikac

Alicia Fikac has known for a while that she wanted to enter the medical world, but the inspiration to don scrubs didn’t come from childhood games or even TV personalities.

It came from real-life experience.

The University of Houston-Victoria junior was in high school when she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. Throughout her time in and out of hospitals, she learned to appreciate the medical staff around her.

“I formed bonds with a lot of the doctors and nurses I met,” she said, explaining they not only helped her feel better, but also told her what was happening as it happened. “I want to be able to do that for others.”

Now a biology major working toward a minor in psychology, Fikac wants to make it as a physician’s assistant and, eventually, specialize in pediatrics.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” she said. “It’s the road I had to take.”

Fikac was born and raised in Yoakum and graduated from Yoakum High School in 2010. She chose to study at UHV partly because of the school’s size – she preferred a smaller university – and partly because of the Jaguars softball team.

An athlete since she was old enough to hold a bat, Fikac walked onto the team.

She said the decision to join was a good one. Not only does her position as pitcher mean she can take part in many plays of each game, but the friendships she’s made have helped shape her college experience.

“One of my teammates is even a roommate now,” she said. “It really was the right choice for me.”

Classes and practices keep Fikac plenty busy, but they aren’t the only things filling her calendar.

During breaks from school, the 20-year-old helps at the gym her mother owns in Sweet Home, assisting with tumbling, gymnastics and cheerleading classes. Any other spare time is spent visiting with friends and family.

“I’ve always been very family-oriented,” Fikac said. “They mean a lot to me.”

All in all, Fikac is excited to continue at UHV and delve into her major courses. She advised other students just starting out to get a handle on what needs to be done and stick to a schedule.

“Time management is a big thing,” she said. “You need to make sure you have enough time to study, but also to get some rest. It’s all important.”

The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342