Though she was married at 16 and a mother the following year, Dr. Maria Manriquez didn’t let that stop her from achieving her goal.
“You have to have champions in your life that believe in you and that encourage you to believe in yourself,” the Ahwatukee woman said. “I was lucky to be grounded. My first child grounded me quickly. I had people in my life that held that stick up high and did not let me crawl under it.”
She became a registered nurse and, beginning in 1986, worked in the baby delivery department at Banner Desert Samaritan Hospital.
She loved her career in health care, especially dealing with patients, so Manriquez decided to “take the leap” and begin pre-requisite courses for medical school. She was accepted into the University of Arizona College Of Medicine in Tucson, where she commuted daily from Phoenix in her second year of medical school after her second child was born.
She was able to do her entire third and fourth years of medical school training in Phoenix, when the campus first started in an office on Indian School Road.
After graduating from medical school, Manriquez completed her residency in 2002 at Banner Good Samaritan, now known as Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.
She joined UofA’s College of Medicine–Phoenix in 2004 as obstetrics-gynecology site director and assistant professor.
She became director of the college’s OB-GYN clerkship in 2009 and started the Pathway Scholars Program in 2014. Manriquez also serves as the “cultural competence theme director” and is the interim associate director for clinical curriculum.
The Pathway Scholars Program provides an opportunity for Arizona residents who may have experienced unusual educational challenges on their road to medical school. These applicants possess the attributes that would make them superb physicians, but may lack the necessary skills needed to succeed in medical school.
Manriquez said she was inspired to establish the program to provide these applicants with the tools to achieve their dreams.
“What is most gratifying is watching people that maybe didn’t think they had an opportunity to be all that they could be, realize that opportunity,” she said. “Getting into medical school is tough in general, and when you’ve had a lot of disadvantages in your life, being persistent and able to persevere through that and having a support system is very special. They are very appreciative and humble.”
“I had sat on the student progress committee when I was a medical student and saw that some students didn’t have the support system they needed to be successful in medical school,” she said, adding:
“If we are going to recruit for diversity, and for physicians that come from backgrounds where vulnerable populations come from, we have to provide academic learning support while maintaining high standards.”
Manriquez is married to Moses Sanchez and has three children.
“I like to say I birthed my best friend,” she said, referring to daughter daughter Bernadine Sadauskas, who is the department administrator for Dr. Frederic Zenhausern and the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine.
“We live next door to each other,” Manriquez said of her daughter. “We opened up the backyard between our houses. My three grandchildren live next door. We are well-rooted in our faith. Outside of that, I love to travel and I like to write. I enjoy what I do in women’s health and serve my patients.”
Manriquez is able to prescribe buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that is used to treat opioid addiction, and manages patients who need this care in pregnancy.
She developed – and is co-program director for – reentry into the obstetrics and gynecology clinical practice at Maricopa Integrated Health System.
She has been active in numerous leadership role, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
-April Fischer is a spokeswoman for University of Arizona College Of Medicine-Phoenix.