HARLINGEN — Stacy Renay Beltran knew when she was just a child that one day she would have a career in medicine.
“As long as I can remember, from a little girl, I always wanted to go into the health care field,” she said.
“I just always had a passion for learning how the human body works.”
She was just “a young kid,” growing up in Pharr, when she started studying books on anatomy and memorizing the names of the bones.
Today, Dr. Stacy Beltran is a periodontist with a practice in Harlingen and Edinburg, where she specializes in gum disease and dental implants.
She recently earned her “diplomate” status.
“A Diplomate is a periodontist who has made significant achievements beyond the mandatory educational requirements of the specialty and who is certified by the American Board of Periodontology,” the board’s website says.
Her road to that certification began as early as high school.
At first, Stacy wanted to attend South Texas High School for Health Professions, or Med High, in Mercedes.
But that changed after a visit to Science Academy of South Texas, or Sci Tech, where her older brother was attending to school.
“There was a counselor there who asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said something in the medical field,” Stacy said.
“She said, if you’re going to be a doctor, you really need to be strong in your sciences and your math. That made the most sense to me so I said, sign me up.”
She graduated from Sci Tech in 2001. The path next led her to the University of Texas at San Antonio and then the University of the Incarnate Word.
Initially, she pursued an undergraduate degree in nutrition. But that, too, changed.
“I saw there was such a link between diet health the oral cavity, and the oral cavity being the window to the rest our bodies,” she said. “I just was fascinated, really, with that link.”
So she switched to dentistry.
She gradated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 2011 but stayed on for another three years for her periodontic residency.
She then returned to the Valley and began her practice in September 2014, practicing out of the offices of RGV Endodontics.
She has advice for children thinking about a career in the medical field. Like that counselor at Sci Tech, she says they need to be strong in their sciences and math.
But she has more advice.
“I would say, explore all options and ask questions. And find the confidence,” she said.
“Don’t be afraid.”
She says when she moved away from the Valley to pursue her studies, she found that many of her classmates had family members who are doctors.
“Coming from a small town, you kind of get fearful that you may not be as competitive as they are,” she said.
“But, it’s really all about believing in yourself.”