This Neurosurgeon Came to the Country as an Undocumented Migrant

This acclaimed neurosurgeon used to be an undocumented migrant who worked on farms to make a living. “We grew up very poor. We didn’t have much. And I went to this area of California and begged for a job until somebody actually hired me to do the most menial type of work,” recalls Dr. Q. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, or Dr. Q, who grew up in a poor small town in Mexicali, Mexico. At 19, he came to the U.S. for a second time to seek opportunity and work as a farmer in Northern California. “Even though we were making at the time $3.35 an hour for extraordinarily difficult work…we were all happy to be there.” From there, Quiñones-Hinojosa decided to learn English and enroll in a community college. “I met a classmate of mine who guided me through the application for the University of California and many other universities,” he remembers. Quiñones-Hinojosa got accepted to UC Berkeley with a scholarship and Harvard Medical School soon after. Today, he is a renowned neurosurgeon and researcher. “I do anywhere between two to three hundred brain surgeries a year. I am in my twelfth year, so over 2,500 brain surgeries that I have done,” says Quiñones-Hinojosa. Dr. Q is the chair of the Department of Neurologic Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Florida which is ranked amongst the best hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery in the U.S.