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Representando Al Norte: Jesse Rael

Being raised in a community where your history connects to every part of your present, it’s difficult to find the courage to leave. It is similarly difficult to forge a path and stay.

Questa del Rio News is committed to highlighting different members of our community, both those who have created their paths and planted their own roots in the community that raised them, and also those who have pursued lives outside of the community — through our Representando series. This series is dedicated to those who are Representando al Norte in various facets of life.

For our April issue, we spoke with Dr. Jesse Rael who is currently a radiologist at Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods in Santa Rosa, California. Jesse is a proud Questeño who shared that he continues to carry his heritage, traditions, and culture with him to this day.

Jesse graduated from Questa High School in 1976. After high school he attended New Mexico Tech where he got a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. In 1985, he got his medical degree (MD) from the University of New Mexico.

After medical school, he started a surgery residency at LSU Shreveport. After three years he decided that surgery wasn’t what he wanted to do and begin training in radiology. After completing his radiology training at UNC-Chapel Hill, Jesse moved back to New Mexico and started a combined neuro-interventional radiology fellowship at UNM.

After all his training, he worked in New Mexico at UNM, Lovelace Hospital, and at the New Mexico Cancer Center.

Around 2000, while attending a sponsored dinner at a radiology conference in Chicago, he sat directly across from a woman who turned out to be a radiologist at UC Irvine. They hit it off and had a long distance relationship for over a year. They eventually got married and started a family and have been practicing radiology together for over 26 years. Currently, Jesse and Linda are radiologists at Sutter in Santa Rosa, Caifornia.

They have two children: their oldest daughter Erin attended NYU and got her degree in Epidemiology and Public Health. She currently works at UNM where she is a stroke research coordinator. Her goal is to become a doctor. Their son, Vlad, loves everything to do with the ocean and is studying marine science at the University of Hawaii.

When asked what fed his ambition to pursue his life in medicine, Jesse says his upbringing in Questa was a big driver. “My dad worked at the Questa Mine and I grew up thinking I was destined to be a miner as well. But after seeing how hard he worked and how he always worried about job security I decided I needed to do something else. While in high school, I had the great fortune of meeting Dr. Grossman, our community doctor who introduced me to medicine and told me that even Questa kids like me could become doctors. That was a huge revelation and from then on I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Asking what advice he would give to students who may have a big goal or dream to pursue medicine, he says “I don’t consider myself particularly gifted and becoming a physician took every ounce of determination that I had. I grew up in our little town of Questa, and worked hard at becoming a physician. You can become one too if you want it bad enough.”

For the record, Jesse says he believes in ghosts.