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Victoria doctor honored with distinguished alumnus award

By Elena Watts
June 9, 2014 at 1:09 a.m.

From left, Dr. David L. Callender, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston president; Dr. Danny Jacobs, UTMB School of Medicine provost and dean; Dr. Peter Rojas, Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient; and Dr. Debra Fuller, UTMB Alumni Association president, stand with Rojas at the  ceremony.

Career Highlights

• Chairman of the Board of DeTar Hospital, 1997-98

• President of the South Texas Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, 1998

• Member of the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons, 2003-09

• Founder of the Cancer Program, the Continuing Medical Education Committee and the Trauma Program in Victoria

• Diversity in Medical Education Committee member at UTMB, 2005-present

• Director of surgical mission trips to Guatemala, 2002-present

Dr. Peter P. Rojas was the youngest of nine children born to Mexican immigrants Miguel and Emilia Rojas. He couldn't speak English when he entered the first grade in Victoria.

Rojas, a board-certified general surgeon and senior partner with Victoria Surgical Associates, received the Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award from the alumni of the the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Medicine.

"Dr. Rojas is a salient representative of a generation of Victoria children of Mexican immigrants who, due to impervious parental values of work, education, community, religion and frugality, have distinguished themselves by educational and professional accomplishments, civic commitment and seamless biculturality," Dr. Anne P. Wagner wrote in the letter nominating her colleague for the award.

Rojas attributed his success to the study habits he developed with like-minded elementary school classmates. The good friends formed a study group.

"We talked a lot about what we wanted to do," Rojas said. "We went our separate ways, but we all became professionals."

Rojas chose to pursue medicine because the profession would allow him to care for others while he maintained a comfortable lifestyle for his family. He graduated from the UTMB School of Medicine in 1970.

During the early '70s, Rojas, a United States Army captain, worked for Victoria physicians on weekends while he was stationed at Darnall Army Hospital in Fort Hood. Victoria Surgical Associates recruited Rojas as a partner in 1978.

"I already knew a lot of the doctors here, so they had no problems referring to me," Rojas said.

Since 2002, Rojas has also directed Guatemalan surgical missions almost yearly. He and other volunteers have performed as many as 50 surgeries, primarily for hernias and gallstones, during their four-day visits.

"All of my daughters have gone with me to help; it's been a bonding event for us," Rojas said. "And it cemented their desire to go into medical professions."

Rojas' wife, Julie Rojas, and two of his daughters are nurses. Another daughter is an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

"It is one of the noblest professions," Rojas said. "And it has set an example for the rest of the family."

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