Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Pablo R. Zelaya (71')

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Pablo R. Zelaya (71')

The Zelaya and Hagemeier families.

August 30, 2023

This past April, on a cool Indiana morning, Dr. Pablo R. Zelaya stepped into the Dayson Foundation & Alumni Center with a wide smile.  It was his first time back to Vincennes University in many years, and he was excited to see the campus that he dearly loved.  He would go on that day to tour VU's Nursing facilities, Updike Hall, The Jefferson Student Union, and the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center.  He was flooded with memories prompted by familiar sights on campus, yet, also amazed at the new buildings and the resources available for students.  Dr. Zelaya, joined by his wife and longtime friends Donna and Bob Hagemeier (pictured above, L-R), realized that his VU story had come full circle.

Dr. Zelaya first learned of Vincennes when Rev. Ron Kerr of the First Baptist Church in Vincennes visited his country.  The good-natured Zelaya translated for the church group and helped them to navigate their way across Mexico.  Asked if there was anything the group could do for him, he responded that he hoped to become a missionary doctor. Impressed by his kindness and intelligence, the group, working closely with VU President Issac Beckes, strategized a plan for community support to sponsor his education.

Dr. Zelaya did not take the gift of education for granted. He was a gifted translator, and used that gift for the greater good. He played a large role in the opening of one of the first Mexican hospitals accredited to meet medical standards in the United States. Nearly half of the school was American medical students travelling abroad, and Dr. Zelaya worked tirelessly translating for the students.

"Dr. Pablo," as his patients affectionately called him, did not have a lucrative medical career as a missionary physician.  However, he feels rich in the knowledge that he was able to use his talents to help those most in need.  When asked what was next, he expressed his desire to return to where it all started, Vincennes, Indiana.  He has spoken with community organizations, and would love to use his experiences as a translator and physician to help support and inspire the next generation of Trailblazers in the medical field.