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Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  363 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Today he is known as Dr. Q, an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist who leads cutting-edge research to cure brain cancer. But not too long ago, he was Freddy, a nineteen-year-old undocumented migrant worker toiling in the tomato fields of central California. In this gripping memoir, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa tells his amazing life story—from his impover ...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by University of California Press (first published September 1st 2011)
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Ruben
Sep 29, 2011 Ruben rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I think Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa is an amazing person, and not just because we share a last name. His story is really one-of-a-kind. No one claims he's the best doctor in the country, but it's doubtful that any brain surgeon started from humbler beginnings. I much preferred the second half of the book, when he follows his educational path through medical school and residency. At times, the anecdotal style reminded me of Dr. Emily Transue's or Dr. Atul Gawande's, in a good way. The first half was ha ...more
Kimberly
Jun 14, 2012 Kimberly rated it really liked it
I was so excited to read this. Dr. Quinones was my neighbor and I even babysat his kids only a few years ago. I just happened to stumble upon it in the library. It was fun reading someone's story that I actually know!Dr Quinones really is a genuinely warm, positive and kind person. It is amazing to see where he came from to know him today and see where he is. Very inspiring!
Shana
Dec 06, 2012 Shana rated it liked it
This is the inspiring story of one man's journey from undocumented farm worker to highly respected brain surgeon. Oftentimes when we read about undocumented peoples in the United States, it is in a negative light, and this story shows that when you take away borders/nationality/etc., you just end up with human beings. Yes, sometimes we are left with some unsavory characters, but sometimes we are also blessed with undiscovered talent and potential. With motivation, hard work, kind mentors, and su ...more
A.
Jan 16, 2012 A. rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing account of a man who overcame great adversity. I don't think I have read a more interesting autobiography. This doctor has an amazing story to tell and he tells it well. You do not need to have any interest in becoming a doctor, immigration or brain surgery to thoroughly enjoy this book. It reminds me of the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" and definitely deserves to be made into a movie. Great book!
Laura
Mar 13, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting autobiography that I think would make a good candidate for my institutions Diversity One City One Book program.

I wish I had Dr. Q's drive and energy, not to mention his sense of perspective.

Quiltgranny
Inspiring, positive and a great story of perseverance and drive, it was just a bit too introspectively happy, happy, happy, happy, happy.....
Micky Tang
May 31, 2016 Micky Tang rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed Dr. Q's story. He didn't make himself out to be a superhero. I felt he presented himself as an authentic human being, complete with fears and dreams. I found the story inspiring because he spoke freely about his struggles. I also found his humility inspiring when he tells about his progress as student, doctor and then leader. The overarching lesson that he tries to pass on is that he did not forget where he came from: small beginnings and BIG dreams. He carries that attitude into life ...more
Cicely
Jul 09, 2014 Cicely rated it really liked it
Dr. Q's life as an undocumented farm worker was an aberration in his life path: as a child and young man he already had the makings and upbringing to become a brain surgeon. He inherited his desire to heal from his grandmother who was a traditional Mexican curanderra (traditional healer) and had the aptitude to study and then excel in becoming a teacher. The the country of Mexico let him down though, because only the rich and connected could get good jobs. So jumping the fence was his only optio ...more
Robin Rathman
May 30, 2013 Robin Rathman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology-related
This is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. I am going to order several copies and have it available for my high school biology students to read. I also intend to read passages in my classroom.
Diana
Sep 07, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it
A neurosurgeon tells how how rose from a poor boy in Mexico to a migrant field worker to a star in his field.

This was a very enthralling story. It focused a little less on medical cases and more on the life events that brought Dr. Q to this point. It almost seems like a work of fiction, too good to be true, but it happened. I wish there had been a little bit more about his undocumented status--he seemed to have no trouble enrolling in school and even visiting Mexico prior to becoming a citizen,
...more
Salsabrarian
Another inspiring story of overcoming the odds. Dr. QuiÃones grew up poor in Mexico and worked in the fields of California, yet 10 years later enrolls in medical school at Harvard and today is a leading neurosurgeon and scientist. Dr. Q is earnest and enthusiastic about sharing his story (witness the many exclamation points he uses), always tying his successes back to his roots and family. His story also provides a tantalizing glimpse of what brain surgery is and what it takes to succeed in the ...more
Erin
Feb 02, 2016 Erin rated it really liked it
A student read this book and raved about it, so I decided to read it to see if it might be good to teach to college students - many of whom have similar backgrounds to Dr. Q. I enjoyed reading about his journey to get where he is today, and I think he is very inspiring. However, if you're not interested in the medical field, it's about 75-100 pages too long. Too many stories of patients, surgery, and research that aren't completely tied to a point. They made him who he is, but there was a lot mo ...more
Andres
Feb 02, 2012 Andres rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medical
This book fulfills the definition of an inspiring read without being bogged down by anything too cloying.

The author details his humble beginnings in Mexico, his perilous leap over the border into the United States, and the hard work he performed in the fields of California and other various blue collar jobs. His work ethic and determination propelled him to enter school and, as the subtitle of his book reveals, he eventually became a thoroughly respected and talented brain surgeon.

While some of
...more
AGC
Aug 09, 2012 AGC rated it it was amazing
I have nothing but praise for Becoming Dr. Q. There is something mystical about his life's story, and I absolutely love the motif of the the "light at the end of the tunnel", which he uses in each anecdote that begins each of the big turning points of his life. He writes about his many struggles and how his small triumphs in life led him to tackle the bigger obstacles he comes up against, from poverty to working to college to medical school to residency to starting as an attending neurosurgeon t ...more
Jenny Brown
Feb 15, 2012 Jenny Brown rated it it was amazing
This was a very interesting book. The author's tone is relentlessly cheery and positive, to the point where it sometimes seemed hard to believe anyone could really be like that, but that attitude and the undertone of obsession that runs through this story explains how a boy raised in a shack could transform himself from an illegal immigrant supporting himself as a migrant worker into a top brain surgeon associated with one of the top medical schools in the world.

I was particularly struck by the
...more
Evanston Public  Library
“There was no shame in being a field worker. I felt proud of what I could accomplish with my bare hands,” says Dr. Q about his work as a teen. Still using his hands to work, Dr. Q is now an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist who leads cutting-edge research to cure brain cancer. After crossing the U.S. border illegally on his nineteenth birthday “running so fast that (his) feet cut air,” his labor work on California farms became the first step toward achieving the American d ...more
Francine
Apr 12, 2014 Francine rated it really liked it
I really do admire Dr. Q! Very few people inspire me and he is one of those very few. His life is very interesting. What I admire from him is his ability to relate to patients with compassion and honest desire to help. It is very rare to meet physicians that are truly interested not only in the physiological/pathological aspect of medicine, but in the humanity part that often times is ignored or taken for granted. I think part of it was his hard life and his experience as a patient himself. Also ...more
Danielle
Oct 19, 2012 Danielle rated it liked it
When I first met one of my friends her mom was getting ready to undergo brain surgery to have a tumor removed. Though not her primary doctor, Dr. Q has been involved in her care at points. Over the summer I happened to be at dinner with my friend's mother and she mentioned this book, which sounded intriguing to me. Dr. Q actually illegally immigrated to the United States and now is a renowned brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins. It's an impressive story. He doesn't really get into the issue of illega ...more
Yesenia Mendoza
Jan 26, 2016 Yesenia Mendoza rated it it was amazing
Amazing story of Alfredo Quinonez who against all odds comes to the US as an undocumented migrant worker, never losing sight of his ultimate goal to earn an education to become a teacher. Little did he know that on his journey to become a teacher (professor), he would first become a brain surgeon.

Truly inspiring book!
Trevor Lucas
Nov 04, 2012 Trevor Lucas rated it it was amazing
I knew this was going to be an inspiring story, yet I wasn't prepared for the raw truth surrounding his story and deep emotion this book invoked in myself. My most favorite part of this book is that although he is a religious and deeply spiritual individual, he leaves much of that out and devoted the story to the basics. Not at one point during this read was I sad or felt hopeless for Dr. Q, only a sincere sense of pride and critical motivation. Never in this book do you feel like anything is ov ...more
Peebee
Jan 03, 2013 Peebee rated it really liked it
Occasionally so filled with humble platitudes as to be a little repetitive and boring, but most of the time, Dr. Q's story is just so amazing you will forgive a fair amount of that. I'm glad to know that if I or anyone I know and love needs a brain tumor eradicated, that he's on it, and practices very close to here at Johns Hopkins. Like him, the story never stops moving and I'm confident that he will make major research strides throughout his career, as he's showing no signs of slowing even now ...more
Margaret K
Jan 29, 2014 Margaret K rated it really liked it
Becoming Dr. Q joins a few other current books in my library about the nature of human resilience, Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng, Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand about Louis Zamperini and My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor. The settings, the obstacles and struggles vary but each is an inspiring model of indomitable spirit.
Linda Nichols
Jul 23, 2012 Linda Nichols rated it it was amazing
A very inspirational story of a young man's transformation from migrant farm worker with only a few words of English, through community college, university, medical school, to world-renowned brain surgeon and researcher into the causes and cures of brain cancer. He learned to shake off the sneers and defamation of those who did not think that a "lazy" Mexican could become anything worthwhile and now heads his own research lab where breakthroughs are being made in knowledge of the human brain, ul ...more
Madisonbierman
Oct 03, 2012 Madisonbierman rated it really liked it
This book was so inspiring; I can’t believe how far that one person can come despite having seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them. He came here illegally and worked as a migrant worker before going to college, all while learning English. Then, he got accepted into some of the world’s best medical schools, including Berkeley, Stanford, and Harvard. (All schools I would love to attend) The hard work, drive and determination that he must possess are incredible. This book has made me so ...more
Debbie Glassman
Jun 24, 2016 Debbie Glassman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good


Dr. Q operated on a former student. She recommended the book. hope to see the movie. An easy read. Not too graphic.
Eva Garlick
Jan 07, 2015 Eva Garlick rated it really liked it
Loved the story. Dr. Q is a testament to the power of the human spirit to achieve when focused.
Jorge Ortega
Aug 06, 2015 Jorge Ortega rated it it was amazing
The quality of a person's life is proportional to the commitment to excellence they have.
Julie
Sep 18, 2015 Julie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading about Dr. Q. Interesting that his other surgeries were not referenced. I know he's dedicated to the brain, but about a decade ago he performed a spinal fusion on my husband at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. His bedside manner was JUST as it is written. We were a team in my husband's medical care. He sat with us, discussed everything with us, etc. We have always considered ourselves lucky that Dr Q. was our surgeon. After reading this book, I am comple ...more
Nichelle Sifontes
Jul 12, 2014 Nichelle Sifontes rated it it was amazing
Inspiring Story! Awesome!
Kristjan
Feb 23, 2013 Kristjan rated it really liked it
A wonderful story, with lots of twists and turns. It shows what can be accomplished by highly motivated, hard-working people. However, I feel there is something missing from the story. Dr. Q seems to avoid spiritual issues in telling the story. He talks about "destiny" in meeting certain people at certain times. He states that he believes in God, but makes no mention what that God is like. He seems to "believe" in a generic "god", which is really no God at all. Still, a very uplifting story.
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Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa (also known as "Dr. Q") is a physician, author, and researcher. He practices neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and runs a basic science research lab out of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Quiñones is Director of the Brain Tumor Surgery Program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Director of the Pituitary Surgery Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Director of the ...more
More about Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa...

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“As I would learn later on, developed countries will always welcome the Einsteins of this world -- those individuals whose talents are already recognized and deemed to have value. This welcome doesn't usually extend to the poor and uneducated people seeking to enter the country. But the truth, supported by the facts of history and the richness of immigrant contribution to America's distinction in the world, is that the most entrepreneurial, innovative, motivated citizen is the one who has been given an opportunity and wants to repay the debt.” 14 likes
“Unwilling to give in to that possibility, I keep going, holding on fiercely to the belief that I can make it. Taunts of “you can’t” and “who do you think you are?” have never stopped me before, so why should they now?” 0 likes
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