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Devin Gantzios-Cros' pediatric oncologist inspired him to become an MD. He shared his experiences and insights at the IU School of Medicine graduation ceremony on May 10.

Celebrating the Class of 2024: Former pediatric lymphoma patient becomes an MD

Devin Gantzios-Cros in his cap and gown standing and speaking at podium with IU School of Medicine logo flags, at graduation 2024

Devin Gantzios-Cros speaks at the IU School of Medicine Graduate Recognition ceremony on May 10, 2024.

As a person of Greek-Colombian heritage growing up in Miami, Devin Gantzios-Cros enjoyed living in a multiethnic community teeming with Hispanic culture. He stayed connected to his Greek roots by visiting relatives in Greece each summer, and he enjoyed dancing in the annual festival hosted by his Greek Orthodox church. He was active in high school sports and considered becoming a physical therapist.

An unexpected medical diagnosis would sharpen his career focus. About three months shy of high school graduation, he discovered a lump in his neck. It was Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Today Gantzios-Cros is a medical doctor. He graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine on May 10 and spoke at the school’s commencement ceremony about his gratitude for the unexpected events that led him to IU and shaped his vision of becoming a pediatric oncologist.

“I wanted to help others in the same way I was helped when battling cancer,” said Gantzios-Cros, who will soon start residency training in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center with plans for an oncology fellowship to follow.

He remembers the shock and disbelief he felt on the day he was told that the seemingly innocuous lump in his neck was malignant. 

Miami pediatric oncologist Dr. Guillermo DeAngulo, in white coat, and Devin Gantzios-Cros, with no hair, stand side-by-side in a treatment room during his cancer treatment period in 2015.

“You think of cancer as something grandparents or older people get,” he said.

The abrupt manner of the diagnosing physician alarmed his mother, but Gantzios-Cros’ pediatric oncologist, Guillermo De Angulo, MD, put the family at ease with his calm and confident demeanor.

“He explained the whole treatment process and told us that Hodgkin’s lymphoma has a 98% cure rate, so I never felt fear,” Gantzios-Cros said. “When I told him I was interested in following his path (in pediatric oncology), he was supportive and said I would be able to relate to patients and know how it feels to be in that hospital bed.”

Gantzios-Cros’ treatment lasted four months, from March to June 2015, and he has been in remission ever since. He earned his bachelor’s in health science with a minor in classical studies from the University of Florida in 2019 and anticipated flowing directly into medical school somewhere in the Sunshine State — the only place he applied. His plans pivoted when the rejection letters came.

“I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t upset or questioning why some of my peers got accepted on their first application cycle into medical school straight out of undergrad,” he said. “Little did I know at the time that this would be the best thing to happen to me.”


Devin Gantzios-Cros stands with arms around his father and mother, wearing his white coat after the Class of 2024 White Coat Ceremony‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’

Those who know Gantzios-Cros well know that he likes to share inspirational quotes. His graduation message contained a few of his favorites.

He urged his peers to resist the temptation to compare themselves or their accomplishments to others.

“Throughout this medical school journey, and throughout the rest of our lives, there will always be people who are getting 98% on tests, people involved in 30 research projects at the same time, and people who seem to be balancing everything humanly possible with a smile on their face,” he said. “We should not be comparing ourselves to others but instead comparing ourselves to who we were years ago, months ago, and even days ago.”

Personal growth is key to leading a meaningful life, he said. On his own journey, the rejections from Florida medical schools caused him to cast a wider net and landed him in Indiana.

“Why not go to medical school in a place 1,200 miles away from home, knowing absolutely no one remotely close by, and not having experienced a day below 30 degrees in my life?” he joked. “But wow, have the last four years changed my life in the best way possible. I met some of the most genuine, well-rounded, interesting, and obviously smart individuals that I now get to call my best friends.”

Devin Gantzios-Cros and Allison Higgs stand together holding their Match Day 2024 signs indicating their match into the pediatrics residency at Cincinnati Children'sThose connections include his girlfriend, Allison Higgs, also a Class of 2024 graduate. Gantzios-Cros and Higgs participated in the couples’ match process with the National Resident Matching Program, aligning their rankings so they would go to the same place for residency training. Cincinnati was their No. 1 choice — but they both had to be selected.

“It’s one of the top programs in the nation for pediatrics, so we were really happy and shocked,” Gantzios-Cros said of the Match Day reveal.

Back when he started at IU School of Medicine in the fall of 2020, the extroverted Floridian knew no one, so he wanted to make connections with his peers quickly. The problem: a global pandemic. Every class except anatomy lab was virtual.

Gantzios-Cros started up an unofficial Instagram account for IU medical students which has since grown to nearly 900 followers. It’s a place where students can make connections, share ideas and organize social events.

Gantzios-Cros also served as an Indianapolis campus representative with the Medical Student Council and helped secure funding for social gatherings including Pacers and Colts games, a skiing trip and a pottery-making event.

A large group of third-year medical students pose together outside before an Indianapolis Indians game.“Devin is a very friendly and warm person who takes time to really get to know others,” said Emily Walvoord, MD, associate dean for student affairs. “He is particularly attuned to inclusivity, especially of students from campuses across the state. He has a positive, can-do attitude that draws others in and makes people feel seen and heard.”

Throughout his time at IU School of Medicine, he worked as a pedal pub driver in downtown Indianapolis, giving him the opportunity to talk with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures as they pedaled their way between local monuments, restaurants and bars. He also interacted with diverse populations during his “gap year” between undergrad and medical school when he became a certified nursing assistant and did the humbling work of helping people with personal care during their final days.

“I can’t even begin to explain how much it has helped me become a more empathetic person,” said Gantzios-Cros, who also earned a graduate certificate in medical physiology from the University of Florida during that time. “I spent every day of my gap year trying to become better — not better than my (peers), but better than the person I was the day before.”


Devin Gantzios-Cros wears his graduation cap and gown and holds and his small dog, Match, outside his Indianapolis home.‘Don’t be good — be great!’

As a former pediatric oncology patient and medical student, Gantzios-Cros said he has observed both “good” and “great” doctors.

“It’s small characteristics that differentiate the two, but — oh boy — do they mean a world of difference to the patients they’re treating and their families, and to the learners they are teaching,” he said. “All good doctors can come up with a diagnosis and tell their patient what the treatment is, but it takes great doctors to communicate with their patient and tailor the treatment plan for their lifestyle.”

Gantzios-Cros urged the Class of 2024, as newly minted physicians, to “give people their roses while they can still smell them.” That means thanking outstanding faculty mentors, advisors, family members, friends and others who have supported them along the way.

He also encouraged his peers to “learn to celebrate the small things” and not worry what’s ahead in the next phase of their training — IU School of Medicine has prepared them well.

“We have worked so hard to make it here. Don’t lose sight of that, but also have fun and enjoy every day,” he said. “As tough as the process gets, enjoy it all.”


Devin Gantzios-Cros on stage with platform party as he speaks, wearing his cap and gown at the Graduation 2024 ceremony.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Laura Gates

Laura is senior writer with the Office of Strategic Communications and loves to tell the stories of outstanding students, faculty and staff at IU School of Medicine. A native Hoosier, she has over 25 years of experience in communications, having worked with newspapers and other media organizations in Indiana and Florida, along with small businesses, community groups and non-profit organizations. Before joining IU School of Medicine in January 2020, she was editor-in-chief of a lifestyle magazine serving the community of Estero, Florida.