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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Erik Melekh, OMS II
Class of 2025 - RVUCOM-CO
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2025

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Undergraduate studies:
Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry

Graduate studies:
Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
I am involved in the SAAO+Cranial & the Ultrasound clubs, and I am planning on starting a Radiology Interest Group/Club

Tell us a bit about yourself
I come from a very diverse background. My parents were born in the Soviet Union, I was born in the U.S., but I also lived in Israel for approximately a decade. Shortly after I finished grade-school in Israel, I immigrated to Canada where I finished high-school. Since I was an American citizen, I decided I wanted to study my undergrad and graduate degrees in the U.S., as well as work there. Thanks to my diverse background, I am trilingual, I have experienced different cultures, heard varying thoughts and opinions about the world, life, and the meaning of happiness. These experiences provided me with a variety of perspectives to choose from and adopt to my identity and beliefs.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I initially chose RVU because I did really poorly on my MCAT exam; so poorly that most medical schools would not even look at my application. I had (still have) long time family friends here in Colorado who told me about RVU's MSBS program, which gave me a second chance to get into medical school instead of studying and taking the MCAT test again and hoping to get a significantly better score.

I decided to pursue the medical field when I was 12 years old after watching the TV show, "House M.D." I thought (and still do) that medicine was interesting, and I have enjoyed learning about how the body works from a young age. I decided to pursue specifically the D.O. degree because it will equip me with additional tools and knowledge that allopathic physicians may not learn. For example, OPP/OMT/OMM is a significant skill-set that focuses on the body, mind, and spirit as a single unit working together, which takes a holistic approach to treating patients instead of just finding a pathology and treating it; osteopathic medicine is about finding optimal health in an individual.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I enjoy going to the gym to get a quick break from thinking about studying. I enjoy swimming, and in the winter times I like to go snowboarding. I am also a big movie guy, but with the decrease in free time, it has become more difficult to watch anything.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
Although it sounds insignificant, I really don't like chocolate.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
You are here for a reason. There was a committee that chose 'you' to come to RVU for a reason, which means that the committee saw unlimited potential within 'you.' I believe that this advice really helps when it comes to feeling the "imposter syndrome."

What are your medical interests?
Since I was 12 years old, I wanted to pursue diagnostic radiology. I enjoyed learning about the variety of imaging technologies in physics class, as well as learning how to read some images in different systems courses in the COM.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
My favorite memories from being in RVU is realizing how kind, nice, and determined the professors are to helping me achieve my goals. The professors are definitely a huge reason why I stayed in RVU for the COM program.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
My biggest advice for prospective students is take one day at a time! It is okay to be aware of what you need to get done for the week, but worry mainly about the present and make sure you are prepared for the next day, otherwise you will most likely burn-out.



Elizabeth Kuge, OMS IV
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-CO
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2022

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Camarillo, CA

Undergraduate studies:
Cellular and Developmental Biology, B.S. at University of California, Santa Barbara

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
SNMA Club, Global Medicine Honors Track, Peer Mentor, SIMS Scholars, Mass Casualty Incident Research, Ultrasound Club, ACOEP Club

Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a first generation Japanese-Korean who was born and raised in Camarillo, CA. My parents own a small sushi restaurant, so I grew up learning to walk and talk while interacting with customers and watching my parents serve others. I attended Newbury Park High School where I obtained my Full International Baccalaureate diploma, and then graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2016 with my B.S. in Cellular and Developmental Biology. Afterwards, I scribed in the ED at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, CA for two years prior to matriculating at RVU!

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I wanted to stay relatively close to California, and RVU was the furthest school "east" of California that I applied to. I ended up interviewing early, and on the flight from CA to CO, I saw the mountains from the window and just fell in love. Then I saw the campus and felt nothing but great vibes, and really liked how many windows and natural light came into the building. I felt immediately welcomed here, recognized the strong sense of community, and after I went back home, RVU was the school I compared all the others to. That's how I knew I wanted to be at RVU.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I love spending time with my cat Millie, as well as playing strategic board games, reading fiction, doing puzzles, and watching movies! When I do get outside, I enjoy hiking and finding new restaurants to try! My fiancé moved out to Colorado with me, so it's been a new experience for both of us getting to discover a new state!

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
Even though my parents have been in the sushi business since before I was born, I didn't start actually enjoying sushi until I was 20! Also, I am trained in both Hapkido and TaeKwonDo, and earned my 3rd degree black belt!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
Be yourself. It sounds like such a cheesy phrase, but it's true. If you try too hard to conform and not embrace your strengths, then you won't be happy in your own skin, and you'll always try to meet others' expectations, but not your own. My StrengthsFinder results show that my number one strength is Achieving. It wasn't until my second year that I understood this and used my strength to its fullest capacity.

What are your medical interests?
My medical interests are Emergency Medicine... and Emergency Medicine. Haha

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
My absolute favorite memory was when SNMA collaborated with Children's Hospital of Colorado and Denver Health to bring 60 underrepresented high school students to RVU's campus to immerse them in the realm of osteopathic medicine. It took months of planning, cooperation from multiple student organizations and classes on campus, and applying for a grant to financially fund the event, but seeing the impact we made on those kids is something I'll never forget!

What advice do you have for prospective students?
When you're in medical school, your time is stretched thin between maintaining your personal wellness, doing well in school, and building your career identity. Think carefully about 1-2 things you want to brand yourself with, and build your career around that. Do not apply for positions or join an extracurricular or two to boost your CV, but do things that you are passionate about that will fill your cup in med school! Also, once you're here, don't forget the big picture. It's easy to get distracted by the next quiz, next exam, or next standardized patient encounter. However, it's so important to remember why you decided to become a physician in the first place. So remind yourself every day that you worked hard and earned your spot here. You belong!

What advice do you have for prospective students?
I can't say enough about all the support I've received from our faculty, staff, administrators, and peers. Without their guidance and encouragement, I wouldn't be where I am now. Though RVU is still growing and changing, I truly believe it's the place to be! I'm very blessed to be here, and I wouldn't trade my experience for the world.



Sebastian Ramos, OMS III
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-CO
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2023

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Santiago, Chile and Silverthorne, CO

Undergraduate studies:
B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Northern Colorado

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Urban Underserved Honors Track, CO Student Diversity Task Force, Student National Medical Association, Medical Spanish Club, Family Medicine Club, Interpreter at Dawn Clinic.

Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. At the age of 16, I moved to the U.S. excited for new experiences and learning opportunities. However, my lack of good English and thick accent made it really hard for me to connect with my high school peers. During this time I felt isolated and had no one to guide me in my dream to become a doctor. In my last year of high school, I joined a prep program for first gen college students, which gave me a sense of belonging for the first time in the U.S. The program taught me the importance of mentoring and helped me to graduate with a 4.0 and several scholarships. Thus, I decided that more students like me needed this kind of socio-emotional support while going to school. At my high school graduation day, I made a commitment to pave the way for future students like me to achieve their own dreams and goals.

Consequently, I decided that medicine was not something I would be pursuing for personal growth only, but rather, and I would argue more importantly, the growth of my community! Now that I am in medical school, I am very intentional about the work I do around my school and Colorado so I can help more students of color, more immigrants, and more first gen college students become physicians. I am certain that we can change our historical educational paradigms through mentorship and representation.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
Becoming an osteopathic physician captured my interest early on during my application process to medical schools. Service plays an important role in my life and the tenets of osteopathic medicine resonated with my own goals and values. RVU soon became one of my top choices for three reasons: 1) It is located in Colorado, which is where my family is; 2) its students perform extremely well in standardized exams; and 3) despite not seeing many people of color on campus, I felt welcomed and valued at RVU and motivated me to lead work on diversity, equity, and inclusion at RVU.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
When I am not studying or engaging in academic work, I love to spend my time outdoors with friends, especially backpacking! I also enjoy running, watching anime, and writing poetry.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I was an AmeriCorps member serving as a program coordinator and teacher assistant for the "I Have A Dream" Foundation of Boulder County. Serving my community and actively participating in students' education gave me great insight into the complex role of the physician. Physicians are not only healers but also educators on so many levels. Being in community with the students at "I Have A Dream" Foundation of Boulder County showed me how much I enjoy building long-lasting relationships and collaborating with others toward a unified goal.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
An awesome physician and professor at RVU once told my class: "becoming a physician is a transformative process." As I reflect on my two years at RVU and prepare to take my board examinations, the message continues to hold true. In fact, even before I got into medical school, my path to become a physician has been transformative indeed. Moving to the United States during my high school career opened my eyes to different realities and helped me redefine my goal of becoming a physician. Through my experiences as a first generation college student, immigrant, and person of color, I have found that positivity, service, and curiosity are the foundation to the physician I aspire to be - one who is socially conscious and an advocate for the underserved. I continue to let that phrase keep me curious and excited for what is to come.

What are your medical interests?
I am interested in full spectrum Family Medicine or Urology. Doing a balanced amount of procedures and clinic time, while prioritizing long-term patient care, is important to me in my goal to be a life-long learner. I also love that the family medicine profession trains physicians to be some of the most compassionate, socially-conscious leaders I have ever met. They do not stop caring for their patients, they lead in patient advocacy, public health, and restorative justice.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
Wow, I have so many! But one that has recently stand out to me was finishing my first OSCE and celebrating with my friends right after. I have a picture of that moment posted on my board to reflect about all my growth at RVU.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
"We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own." -Cesar Chavez

This quote by Cesar Chavez reflects my sentiments toward my work as a future physician. I believe that our efforts in everything we do for ourselves should reflect the aspirations and needs of our community. We cannot expect to move forward as a community and nation when we leave others behind. I'm becoming more comfortable with the idea that we can only thrive when everything else around us thrives too. To me, service and social justice reform are important aspects of medicine and I plan to lead these efforts wherever I go during my professional career.

So my advice is be a mentor and ask someone to be your mentor.



Florence Yip, OMS III
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-CO
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2023

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Denver, CO and Bangkok, Thailand

Undergraduate studies:
Biology major at University of Denver

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and Ultrasound Club

Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Chinese by blood, American by law, and Thai in spirit. To explain, although both of my parents are Chinese, I was born in America, and I grew up in Thailand. Growing up with many different cultures has shaped my identity greatly and has helped me understand the importance of diversity. As a first-generation student, I had the strength and resiliency to go into higher education because of my parents' support. They moved to America for a better life, and I want to help give them that. Being international, I have acquired the ability to speak 4 different languages (Cantonese, Thai, Mandarin and English). I hope to use this skill to help narrow the gap of understanding between physician and patient. I would also like to learn Spanish and Japanese down the road!

Balance and mental health are incredibly important to me - I believe that they are the keys to success for a medical student. Thus, during the school year, I delved into my art. I believe that art provides a meditative value; it helped train me to have patience and an eye for meticulous detail. Lately I have been painting a lot of anatomical structures, surrounding them with flowers and a watercolor background. Other hobbies include Muay Thai (Thai martial arts), playing board games, and annoying my dog at home!

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I lived in Bangkok until I had to move to Colorado for college. My parents stayed in Thailand while I attended university here in America by myself. I missed them dearly, and after I graduated college, my parents decided it would be best for the family to be together, so they moved to America to be with me during medical school. Since they flew across 8000 miles of ocean to be with me, I knew that I had to apply to medical schools in Colorado so that I could stay close to them. I really wanted to attend a school that made me feel welcome and treated me like family, which is why RVU was the perfect fit.

I wanted to pursue a D.O degree because balance is incredibly important to who I am and what type of doctor I want to become in the future. Being able to treat the body as a whole through osteopathic medicine was what made me want to pursue this degree.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
Other interests and hobbies are how I survive and thrive in medical school. As said previously, I love immersing myself in my art in my free time and working out. In addition to this, I read books when I can (I like fantasy and horror, but with medical school I have been reading more short stories), binge TV shows, and play lots of board games. I like to do yoga and HIIT workouts but ultimately, I would love to continue practicing Muay Thai.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I bought a katana when I studied abroad in the UK and cannot wait to learn how to use it!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
The best advice I received from a professor at RVU is to value my art. They encouraged me to pursue it further and because of their encouragement, I will forever be grateful.

What are your medical interests?
I would like to pursue internal medicine, with a particular interest in gastroenterology or allergy! I think forensic medicine and medical examining is very cool, but I'm not sure if it is a career I would like to go into.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
I love my friends at RVU, and any time spent with them is worth putting into my memory box (which is too many to count!). My friends are incredibly supportive, we never talk about grades, and we are always there for each other with a shoulder to lean on and a plate full of food (pre-COVID, we would always hang out with the plan of eating good food together).

What advice do you have for prospective students?
My biggest advice would be to stick to your truth and continue doing the things you love and are passionate about. There is always time for family, friends, and hobbies - you just have to make the time! "Busy" is a word I only say to things that I don’t prioritize. So, know what is important to you and make time for it.



Ellet Stone, OMS II
Class of 2024 - RVUCOM-CO
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2024

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Asheville, North Carolina

Undergraduate studies:
Biology and Chemistry

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
I am the coordination lead of the Student Diversity Taskforce and the new RVU Pediatrics club treasurer for the 21-22 year!

Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi! My name is Ellet, but I go by Ellie. I am originally from Asheville, North Carolina. I stayed close to home for undergrad and attended the University of North Carolina at Asheville. In undergrad, my time was pretty evenly split between being on the soccer team and school. I studied biology and chemistry, and for any soccer fans out there, was the center back on the UNCA soccer team! After undergrad, I worked in a dermatology clinic for a year in Atlanta Georgia. I moved out to Colorado for school, and love it! I must say, it makes the mountains of North Carolina look much more like small hills.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
Location. I had never been to Colorado before my interview day, and immediately fell in love! The interview then helped to solidify my choice as everyone I met was incredibly nice, and surprisingly seemed less stressed than I would have expected! As far as the actual degree goes, I have known I wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. I see doctors as leaders in society, that have the ability to not only make an impact on a single life, but also the entire community they are serving. I aspire to be a physician that is always willing to learn and listen.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
When I am not studying I am usually outside. I have recently found a passion for cycling, and Denver is the perfect place for that! I also love to travel. Covid has obviously put a halt on traveling but I am excited to get back into that. Otherwise, my friends and I love to find new restaurants and breweries in Denver, and learn more about the city!

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
One time my carrot cake cupcakes won first place in a cupcake competition (there may have only been 2 cupcakes that entered...)

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
The best advice I have received while at RVU is to use your voice as a student. Students have the amazing power to ask questions and bring new perspectives to old ideas, so, while still a student it is important to use this as much as possible.

What are your medical interests?
I am very interested in pediatrics, and more specifically pediatric cardiology.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
Two-person study parties in the library! Covid has made getting to know my class very difficult, but luckily the library has still been open for small groups, and there is nothing better than a good ole' cram sesh!

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Find a school where you could get stuck in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, and still enjoy your med school experience.



Timothy Light, OMS II
Class of 2024 - RVUCOM-UT
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2024

Campus Location
Southern Utah Campus

Hometown:
Billings, Montana

Undergraduate studies:
Utah State University, Human Biology and Cultural Anthropology

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
I am in the Global Medicine Track. I am one of the student leads at RVU's COVID-19 vaccine clinic. I'm an Addiction Medicine Officer in the club Medical Students Advocating for Under-served Populations, where I work with local stakeholders to increase availability of HIV and HCV rapid testing and harm reduction services in Southern Utah. I am a member of Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness (USARA) monthly pack meeting. I'm the OMS-I Representative for DOCARE International Club. I am currently working on a project assessing the perceived health disparities of refugee populations in Cache Valley, UT. I spent last year as the host of DEBUNKED, which is a podcast run through the Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative and the Office of Health Equity and Community Engagement at Utah State University that aims to debunked myths related to the opioid crisis, harm reduction and substance use disorders. For season two, I've stepped down as host but I still sit on DEBUNKED's editorial board, which is made up of public health professionals, community members, and harm reductionist from across the country.

Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in Billings, Montana on a small hobby farm. I am one of twelve children, so life was never dull. I had a wonderful childhood spent working with horses, raising animals, and enjoying all the outdoors Montana has to offer. My wife and I both served missions for our church in Seoul South Korea. We love Korea and go back as often as we can to visit our many friends there. We also strive to speak Korean in our home and teach our two-year-old daughter all we can about Korean food, culture and language. My wife and I also spent the summer of 2017 in Manilla, Philippines as Utah State University SEED interns working for a microfinance organization. We love the Philippines, and have dear friends there. I cherish every opportunity to build lasting relationships where ever I am planted.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
RVU wasn't initially on my radar. I had some inspiring mentors in undergrad and I felt pulled to pursue an MD-PhD in hopes to improve implementation of health care among underserved populations. I eventually decided that an MD-PhD was not for me and that there were other avenues that would allow me to accomplish my end goal of practicing global health and improving care for under-served communities. I was encouraged by mentors to apply to DO schools, as osteopathic medicine aligns well with my beliefs regarding health and wellness. When interviewing at RVU, I immediately fell in love with the energy at this school. It seemed like a place that welcomed pioneers and innovators, which was a place I wanted to be. Additionally, the family-centered attitude, the access to good weather and nature, and family connections in the area made RVU an easy top choice.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I love spending time with my family, especially my little girl. We love being outdoors and playing sports together. My favorite sports are tennis, volleyball, soccer, softball, and pickleball. I also love music and play the piano, violin, and enjoy singing. I grew up hunting, fishing, white water rafting, backpacking, skiing, and have loved spending time in the backcountry of Montana, so Utah has been fun to explore. My wife is an artist and I like to dabble in the various media she uses; from oil paints to sewing.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I used to Rodeo. During junior high, I won state and then went on to compete at National Junior High Rodeo Finals in Gallop, New Mexico. Also, after high school, I moved to Alaska where I worked construction and commercial fished for a summer.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
Schedule time self-care.

What are your medical interests?
My overarching goal is to practice global health with the intent to serve underserved, vulnerable populations while still remembering everyone else. I have several years of experience working and researching in the public health field, and I plan on continuing to make this a part of my career. I have interests in emergency medicine and obstetrics/gynecology because I feel both offer a good family life balance, and are skills that can be utilized all over the world. But I am still very open to other specialties and look forward to the rotation years!

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
I grew some incredible forever friendships with the students in my first OPP/PCM group. We all got along really well, we had mutual interests, enjoy playing Covid-safe sports together, we've mourned together when things have been hard, we've celebrated successes together, and we've built lasting friendships. It's amazing how I was still able to build such deep friendships despite Covid restrictions meaning we only had three hours each with only 8 students - I still found my people.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Find your passion and run with it. My passion is global health and serving high-risk, vulnerable people. It has always served me well when my energy is spent doing things that relate to my passion.
I would also say, make it a priority to gain good coping skills before coming to med school. Of course, the road to med school is hard and you will have already done and sacrificed a lot to get in. So if you come to school knowing how you feel and handle stress, you will thrive in medical school. It's a guarantee that you will feel some stress during school, so do yourself a favor and decide in advance what things you can do to regulate and deescalate that stress so it doesn't bleed over into your relationships and into your test scores.



Danielle Sunhee-Jung, OMS II
Class of 2024 - RVUCOM-CO
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2024

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Undergraduate studies:
Biology & Society, Global Health (Cornell University)

Graduate studies, if applicable:
MSPH - International Health: Social & Behavioral Interventions (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health); MSBS (Regis University)

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Administered COVID-19 vaccines at the RVU clinic, Urban and Underserved Track, Diversity Officer Class Council 2024,  Student Diversity Task Force/ Committee, IAMSE Manual team, Public Health Journal Club, AMWA, Ultrasound & Internal Medicine Club

Tell us a bit about yourself
Sunhee pronounced like “son-hee” is my Korean name. I grew up in the foothills of Colorado with my hard-working and creative family. I am a morning bird and extrovert. My lifelong involvement as a caretaker exposed me to healthcare systems and their impact on patient experiences, especially for immigrant families and low-resourced communities. This propelled me into studying and championing public health. I love qualitative research and health advocacy – I hope to become a physician who can provide excellent medical care that prioritizes evidence-based research and a public health perspective.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
RVU is 15 minutes away from the best dry cleaners in the world – my family’s! My parents immigrated to Colorado from South Korea in the late 1980s and have worked endlessly to support and uplift each of our dreams and potentials. I attended college out-of-state but was resolute in wanting to start my medical training in Colorado, close to my family. A DO degree from RVU is preparing me to join the next wave of leadership in innovative and patient-centered medicine that prioritizes cultural competency and excellent patient outcomes.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I love hiking, camping, and skiing – being near pondarosa pines and far away from pollution and litter. I also love sewing, playing tennis, and watching docuseries solely dedicated to exploring different foods.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
In 2006 I worked with my mother, Sunny Jung to open GoHyang Jip (Korean for “my hometown”), the first Korean-American Nursing Home in Colorado.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
Let us try to avoid “freezing people in time” and allow each other the opportunity to respond and grow.

What are your medical interests?
Currently interested in geriatrics, palliative care, or OB/GYN provided in a manner that champions cultural competency.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
Planning and hosting RVU’s Inaugural Summit on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion! Helping to establish this 100% student-led initiative will forever be remembered as one of my greatest joys. Working alongside other passionate student leaders for nearly a year was an extraordinary experience. I was energized seeing students, faculty, administration, and community members engaging in open and honest dialogue. The summit provided 300-400 RVU community members the opportunity to learn and grow as we challenged and inspired one another to embrace and uplift a culture of inclusive belonging and celebrated diversity that prioritizes equity.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Take time to re-center your compass. As students, many opportunities/ activities will pull at us and compete for our attention. Track towards your main goal first and surround yourself with people who believe in you. You can do it! Also, find a mentor!



Courtney Shill Russell, OMS IV
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-UT
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2022

Campus Location
Southern Utah Campus

Hometown:
Salt Lake City, UT

Undergraduate studies:
BS in Microbiology

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Rural and Wilderness Medicine Track, OBGYN Interest Club, and Young Doctors program in Vernal, UT

Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in Salt Lake City and attend Brigham Young University in Provo, UT for my undergraduate studies. I am currently living in Vernal, UT doing my third-year clinical rotations with my husband. My husband is also a third-year medical student and we have loved going through this process together.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
When I interviewed at RVU, I really enjoyed the atmosphere. I knew I would get a good education at most medical schools, but I was looking for a supportive environment that valued teamwork. I loved that students helped each other learn by sharing study resources, tutoring each other, etc. I also love being outside and St George has amazing hiking and mountain biking!

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I love hiking, mountain biking, playing pickleball, and crafting. Being active is a big stress reliever. I also enjoy reading historical nonfiction novels.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I used to organize humanitarian trips to the Navajo Nation in Monument Valley, AZ. I am hoping to do another trip this year!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
Be confident in your answers and just because you get something wrong doesn't mean you are not smart.

What are your medical interests?
I am planning on going into OBGYN. I love the patient population, variety in clinic, procedures, and surgery. It is upbeat, busy, and fun!

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
One activity with the Rural and Wilderness Medicine Track was practicing chest tubes and sutures on cadavers.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Medical school will be challenging no matter where you go. Choose the medical school that is the best fit for you! I wanted a collaborative environment and I found that at RVU.



August Stuppy, OMS III
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-UT
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2023

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Joplin, Missouri 

Undergraduate studies:
Hendrix College, BA 

Graduate studies, if applicable:
Rocky Vista University, MSBS

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
ACOFP and the Student Board of DEI

Tell us a bit about yourself
Hello! I’m August Stuppy. I’m an OMSII that hails from southwest Missouri. I graduated from the RVU Master’s program in 2019, and I’m in the RVUCOM class of 2023.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I wanted to be as prepared as I could be for the long journey that is medical school. I started looking into Master's programs that have pipeline programs into their associated medical school, and I ended up visiting the Colorado RVU campus to see whether it would be a good fit for me. I learned more about the philosophy of osteopathy and caring for the whole person, and it aligned with the beliefs I held with regard to addressing the vastly varying contributors to health. I decided that I would apply to the Master's program, and three years later I'm a second-year medical student about to take boards and start rotations!

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I really enjoy language-learning, and I want to be fluent in four languages by my 40th birthday. I know some Spanish, over one-thousand signs in American Sign Language, and I've learned about 100 Japanese hiragana and katakana symbols. I always keep a loaf of bread at the ready for my family, baking a loaf every few days. It's a wonderful way to express my creativity by exploring different flavor combinations and my interest in the foods and flavors of other cultures.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I’ve eaten one meal per day for the past four years! Not only does eating one meal per day work well with budgeting for meals, but it also brings intention toward the food my partner and I prepare and eat. We prioritize preparing sustainable, healthy, home-cooked meals every day, composting as much as we can, and minimizing the amount of waste going to a landfill.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
A professor at RVU once said that medical school can only be what you put into it. Yes, that applies to the student’s studying toward classwork, but I’ve found that it’s more than that. I’ve felt the most connected with myself, my classmates, and the university in the commitments that are outside the curriculum. By volunteering and working with the university on projects that engage diversity, equity, and inclusion, I’ve been able to put into practice how I’d like to see the medical field address past injustices in order to create a more just and equitable health environment. With that said, feeling fulfilled in medical school for me does come from doing well in my classes, but much more importantly, being able to marry my personal convictions and civic responsibility with my future profession leaves me feeling the most fulfilled.

What are your medical interests?
I'm currently interested in family medicine and being a medical provider for marginalized and underserved populations. The healthcare system in this country is largely inaccessible for a large portion of the people who need healthcare, and I want to become a physician who strives to mitigate the many health disparities that exist through language-learning and patient advocacy.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
There are so many! But if I had to pick, then I'd probably choose the celebration of graduating from the Master's program at RVU. The graduating class was relatively small, and so our class had grown very close. That graduation party was a celebration of that closeness and the pride that I have in my fellow graduates for completing such a rigorous program. Dr. Towne and Dr. Roberts have done an incredible job with the program.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
I think that in order to succeed in medical school, I needed to have balance between school and self. Despite being in medical school, I still needed to be able to express myself both in creative projects and express the person I want to become through reading every day. Creative projects, like creating a new bread recipe or designing a card to send to a friend, help me take time to reflect on where I am and how I’m feeling. By making time for reading, I’m able to educate my future self about topics that my present self cares deeply about, such as housing discrimination, modern segregation, implicit bias toward people of non-White racial and ethnic backgrounds, and disparities in healthcare. In medical school I needed to check in with my day-to-day self, but I also needed to make time to invest in the self that I aspire to become outside of school. My advice to prospective students would be to find out how to make that a priority in the most productive, sustainable way possible.



Victoria (Tori) Valdes, OMS II
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-CO

Hometown:
Lancaster, California

Undergraduate studies:
BS in Public Health Sciences from University of California, Irvine

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Global Medicine Officer of SGA, Global Medicine Track, ACOEP Board Member, AMWA, Ultrasound Club, Association of Women Surgeons

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
RVU’s collaborative spirit became the most important feature for me. I knew I would be wading into four stressful years and I wanted to be somewhere that promoted student wellness and collaboration. Everyone from students to faculty embodies this. During my first year I could stop any second-year student (a complete stranger) in the hallway to ask a quick question and they would stop, pull out their laptop, and help answer my question.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I’ve come to treasure the ease with which I can reach out to my professors. Any question, regarding a course topic or a personal interest is welcomed.

What are your medical interests?
Emergency Medicine or General Surgery. But I’m fully prepared for next year to take me by surprise!

What do you do in your spare time?
I take full advantage of Colorado by indulging in snowboarding, hiking, camping, and fishing. There’s something to do in every season and being outside completely resets me.

What advice do you have for first year students?
You get a lot of advice when you start first year, but the one odd suggestion that I took was: “Get a hype man.” My “hype man” is another student who calls me before every single exam and reminds me how hard we’ve both worked and how we need to be confident in ourselves. Half the battle of medical school is retaining your confidence when you’re feeling overwhelmed!

Fun fact about you:
I have a lazy, peanut butter-loving cat who is the best study buddy!

What is your favorite class currently and why?
Renal II! I know, of all the classes to choose, right? But I think renal is amazing. It’s an extremely complex system and one of the most difficult courses I’ve had to tackle, but I actually loved every minute of it. It goes to show that you might not know what you enjoy until you stumble into it.
Rebekah Withers, OMS II
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-CO

Hometown:
Fort Worth, TX

Undergraduate studies:
B.S. in Biology at The University of Texas at Arlington

Graduate studies, if applicable:
M.S. in Biomedical Sciences at The University of North Texas Health Science Center

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
President of the Association of Women Surgeons, Class of 2023 Officer of Wellness, Secretary of Sigma Sigma Phi - Omicron Theta Chapter, Anatomy Tutor Lead – CO, Peer Mentor/Coach, Yoga Instructor for Integrative Medicine

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I knew that I wanted to attend a DO school and chose to apply to RVU because of the consistently high board scores, match rate into surgical specialties, and curriculum format. Also, I have a friend who is one year ahead of me in the program and she had nothing but positive feedback about the quality of education at RVU. The interview sealed the deal! When I went to other interviews, the mood was tense to say the least. The RVU vibe was totally different. It was obvious that the interviewers, faculty, staff, and students were happy in their environment and wanted us to see if RVU was a good fit. One of my fellow interviewees brought the game Organ Attack and everyone felt comfortable enough to relax and play during interview downtime.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The inclusive and supportive culture of RVU! All of my classmates work together to help each other succeed. Also, other classes share their study materials and provide mentorship. The faculty is fantastic and always available to help.

What are your medical interests?
I am interested in pursuing a general surgery residency. General surgery is hands on, fast paced, and requires definitive action; all things I enjoy! At this point, I am also interested in further specializing in trauma surgery. My goal is to work at a county or military hospital.

What do you do in your spare time?
Weight lift, yoga, hike, adventure with my husband, read, cook/bake, play & cuddle with kitties, and dance at concerts/festivals. Also, I thoroughly enjoy eating and like to try new local places (especially breakfast, sushi, & Thai).

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Your physical and mental health are just as important as your academic success! It is so easy to get caught up in doing well in classes that self-care falls by the wayside. There will certainly be times where you have to prioritize school but it is vital that you develop stress management and self-care habits. Ask for help if you need it! Eat healthy meals, sleep 7-8 hours per night, exercise, and socialize. If you have a partner, make sure to create time for your relationship. My partner and I spend an entire morning together either Saturday or Sunday. Your health and happiness matter!

Fun facts about you:
My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We have 3 cats named Bleu, Hobbes, and Doc. I love to travel and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu during undergrad. Coffee and food are two of my favorite things.

Why did you opt for osteopathic medicine?
I chose to become a DO because of the mentality that the body has an innate ability to self-regulate and self-heal and physicians simply assist the body in finding its own health. Also, I think the extensive practice we get utilizing our palpatory skills will make me a better physician. I want to be skilled in osteopathic manipulative therapy so that I can provide future patients with exceptional care that is tailored for their specific needs.
Kayleigh Helgesen, OMS II
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-UT

Hometown:
Oceanside, Ca

Undergraduate studies:
Bachelors of Science in Sports Biology and Psychology from Springfield College in Springfield, Ma

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
SOMA, AMWA, SAOAO and Sports Medicine, PsychSIGN and STIGMA, COSGP, Academic Medicine and Leadership Track

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I chose RVUCOM because of the camaraderie of the students, something that I felt a part of from the day I interviewed. The feeling on campus is that we are in this together, and the school helps to make that possible through their dedication to providing opportunities for students to come together and bond over extracurricular activities.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
My favorite part of RVUCOM so far is the amazing faculty that I have had the pleasure to meet and work with. They have assembled an amazing group of passionate and knowledgeable people, that encourage me every day to keep working hard so that I can one day inspire and inform people the way that they do me.

What are your medical interests?
I am interested in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with a focus in Sports Medicine. I have always loved being a part of the culture of athletics and enjoy the psychology of working with and being an athlete. I have spent the majority of my life in and around sports, and can not imagine a future without them in it!

What do you appreciate most about Utah and the local area?
The hiking and overwhelming beauty of Southern Utah have proven to be the perfect counterpart to all of the time spent indoors studying!

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Focus on you! It is so easy to compare yourself to your classmates and think that you are doing something wrong if you are doing things differently. Medical school is a challenge for everyone and each person handles it in their own way. Find what works best for you and stick to it!

Why did you opt for osteopathic medicine?
At Springfield College they center their curriculum on growth of spirit, mind, and body, so it was a natural transition to go into osteopathic medicine. Beyond believing in the importance of treating the person as a whole, the hands-on nature and close relationship it fosters between physician and patient attracted me to the field.
Nadine Taher, OMS II
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-CO

Hometown:
Denver, CO

Undergraduate studies:
B.S. Biology at University of Colorado Denver

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with:
Officer of Communications in SGA, Treasurer of SOMA, SOSA, and AWS

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
Firstly, I couldn’t imagine leaving the beautiful Colorado and I also wanted to stay close to home. Secondly, RVU has a rigorous curriculum that properly prepares its students for boards and residency!

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I love the friendly and supportive community at RVU! Additionally, our faculty’s open-door policy shows their eagerness to always help and support the students!

What do you do in your spare time?
When I’m not studying, I love going up to the mountains to camp and horseback ride- there’s always so much to see in this state!

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Medical School never gets easier- you get more equipped to handle it! It is so important to learn to recognize when you need personal time and to not get bogged down in the specifics of your courses- always focus on the bigger picture. You’ve chosen a long journey to be able to help patients, you need to be resilient and determined but also understand your limitations and be comfortable in asking for help!

Fun facts about you:
For the first 17 years of my life I lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I can speak fluent Arabic and am a champion of the board game Jackaroo!

Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?
From my first experience shadowing in Orthopedic Spine surgery, I fell in love with this intense field of Medicine and its capacity to improve quality of life for patients without any other option. Since then, I have been doing everything I can to get more involved with surgery interest clubs and education!

What is your favorite class currently and why?
My favorite class so far is Neuroscience! The complexity and significant room for further discovery in that course is fascinating to me!



Ilma Chowdhury, OMS II
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-CO

Hometown:
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Undergraduate studies:
B.S. in Health & Nutrition from Virginia Tech

Graduate studies, if applicable:
M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University, M.S. from Georgetown University

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Urban Underserved Honors Track, Class Council 2023 - Officer for Diversity, Co-President of Internal Medicine Club, Peer Mentor & Coach, Peer Support Officer, SNMA - Publicity Officer

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I was immediately attracted to the sense of community and belonging I felt when I came to visit RVU during interviews. The positive environment and the warm interactions between the students and amongst the faculty and staff was a true indication of how valuable my experience at this school would be. Simply put, I felt like people cared for each other beyond the academic world of medicine. RVUCOM not only prepares you for residency, but also provide you with the support (both academic and emotional) to succeed throughout these 4 years.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I love that the faculty and staff at RVU encourage a positive learning environment that does not support unhealthy competition. The open-door policy is well-practiced among all members of the RVU family, proving that they are truly here to support their students and help them prosper. Student feedback is always valued and addressed, and professors go many extra miles to meet the needs of their students.

What are your medical interests?
While I want to start off with a residency in Internal Medicine, I want to wait to enrich my experiences through rotations and residency before deciding if I want pursue a particular subspecialty. My professional goal is to become an empathetic physician and a leader in preventative medicine, particularly in communities that fall victim to systemic racism, and thereby have to suffer the costs of health disparities. Therefore, through my medical practice and advocacy in health policy, I am committed to ensuring equity and inclusiveness, not only in healthcare but also across all other platforms.

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
Coming from Washington, D.C., my favorite part about Colorado is the options to be out in nature even within an hour from Parker. Medical school can be very isolating, especially when you're spending days stuck indoors studying. As for the handful of days I get to spend without worrying about exams, I am grateful to (basically) have the Rocky Mountains in my backyard. Going outside and appreciating the beauties of world is humbling, and an excellent way to self-reflect, spend time with friends and clear my mind. Living in Parker allows me a balance of exposure between the mountain-side and the city life.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
In my opinion, the first year of med school is the hardest because you have to adjust to a new lifestyle and prioritize where you give your time, on top of dealing with the academics. For this reason, it is very important to reflect on what you need outside of school to keep you grounded and happy. Make sure to spend some time every day for yourself, whether that be through working out, reading, cooking or speaking to a friend or loved one. Get involved on campus based on your interests and passions; just because you're in med school doesn't mean that you have to let go of that aspect of your identity. It's also very important to be able to reach out for help sooner rather than later, so don't be afraid to just ask! You belong in medical school and asking for help does not diminish that accomplishment even one bit.

Fun facts about you:
I used to be a middle school science teacher in Baltimore, MD and I love all my students. I love to learn about anything and everything to build my mental library of random knowledge. And also, I relieve stress by going on long drives and blasting music (almost daily).

Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?
At a very young age I learned to respect the role of a physician as I watched my mother travel across villages of Bangladesh, treating people and improving their quality of life. On top of that, I have always felt a love and curiosity for the study of medicine. As a middle school teacher in an underserved part of Baltimore, I was exposed to the harsh realities of systemic racism and racial inequities that controlled the lives of my students. Although I was a teacher, I repeatedly saw the effects of a failed healthcare system on my students' lives. This reaffirmed my initial goal of being able to provide easier access to healthcare to communities across the United States. After a lot of self-reflection, I decided to pursue a career in medicine, not only to gain proper healthcare training but also to become a qualified leader and advocate in the medical field.



Madison Brown, OMS II
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-CO

Hometown:
Advance, Missouri

Undergraduate studies:
Biology and Spanish at Saint Louis University

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
President of American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians RVU Colorado Chapter, Rural & Wilderness Medicine Honors Track, Peer Support Officer, and OPP tutor.

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I have known for a long time that I wanted to pursue an osteopathic education because I think it is so important to use a whole-body approach for each and every patient. RVU really emphasizes the osteopathic philosophy in a way that reminds me to always take into account a person’s mental and spiritual state in addition to their physical one. Plus, I love the beautiful state of Colorado!

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I feel an incredible sense of community and belonging among my peers at RVU that I have never felt before. I feel accepted for who I am and I am so grateful that I am able to surround myself with future healthcare providers that genuinely care about the health and wellness of others.

What are your medical interests?
Emergency and wilderness medicine, working with fire and EMS agencies, wellness, and mental health.

What are your plans after RVUCOM?
Two things are certain: I want to live and practice medicine in a rural area and I want to dedicate my energies to ensuring that ALL my patients, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, gender identification, socioeconomic status, etc., feel heard and receive the best care I can provide. Beyond that, I am open to wherever my journey takes me.

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
There are so many breath-takingly beautiful places to hike, camp, and explore.

Fun Facts about you:
I have two cattle dogs, I love to embroider, I worked 5 years as an EMT, I grew up in a farm town of 1,200 people, and Halloween is my favorite time of the year!

What advice do you have for first-year students?
YOU BELONG HERE. Imposter Syndrome is real and it is mean. There have been several times that I felt like I was not cut out for this profession, or I was unsure if I was going to make it. But I have learned that so many other people feel this way, too. If you ever feel like this, my hope is that you reach out to somebody. There is so much support here for you and YOU BELONG HERE.



Arthur Armijo
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-CO
Hometown: Raton, New Mexico

Undergraduate studies: University of New Mexico, BS in Biology

Graduate studies, if applicable: New Mexico State University, MPH in Health Management, Administration, and Policy; Rocky Vista University, MS in Biomedical Sciences

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Rural and Wilderness Medicine Track, Honor Code President - Student Government Association, Historian of Anesthesiology Club (AOCA), Vice-President of Medical Student Pride Alliance Interest Group, Surgery Club (ACOS-MSS), MSBS Peer Mentor, Principles of Clinical Medicine Co-Lead Tutor

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I chose RVUCOM because of its excellent reputation as a medical school, from its successful match rates to the design of the curriculum. The curriculum has built in repetition with each system being studied twice and there is also the opportunity to get involved with tracks to enhance your education. I also spent 9 months completing the MSBS program at RVU, which only confirmed my aspiration to attend RVUCOM.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
One of the best things about RVUCOM is the community. Everyone is welcoming and the faculty really do care about helping students reach their goals. All of the faculty and staff are very approachable, which makes it easy to reach out when you have a question or need help finding resources and tools to be successful.

What are your medical interests?
I have a wide range of medical interests from Anesthesia to rural medicine and Emergency Medicine. I am excited to explore my interests during 3rd year clinical rotations and figure out what type of residency I will eventually apply to!

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
There is so much to do here in Colorado and the greater Denver area. Whether it’s being 20 minutes from downtown or a short drive to the mountains, it’s the perfect place to live. I’m also a huge Denver Bronco’s fan and love going to games when possible!

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Study hard and often, but also remember to take breaks and do things that are important to you. Medical school is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Do what works for you and makes you the most successful. Don’t be afraid to try a new study tactic and start learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?
From growing up in a rural community and experiencing healthcare inequalities firsthand, I became motivated to become a physician. Then when I was a freshman in college, I also had the opportunity to start shadowing in the Emergency Department with a mentor (Dr. Tony Salazar, also a Raton native). One clinical experience led to another and I found myself really enjoying the work and impact that physicians have on patients and communities. The science and clinical knowledge that goes into medical education excites me and every experience that I have had, from working, volunteering, shadowing, and school has only confirmed my decision to pursue a career in medicine.



Nicholas (Nick) Longe, OMS II
Class of 2023 - RVUCOM-SU
Hometown:
Salt Lake City, UT

Undergraduate studies:
BS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
President of SA-ACOFP, President of SAAO, Sustainability Committee, Get Fit Friday Committee, Sigma Sigma Phi Honor Society

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I chose RVUCOM because of the sense of community and the attention to each and every student. During interview day and people I talked to afterwards I was amazed how well the students knew the administration, professors, and overall staff and how comfortable they felt walking in and chatting with faculty. That sense of community coupled with location and track record of excellence made it a great choice for me.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The thing I love most about RVU is the community. Everyone – students and faculty - is always willing to take a moment and share study material, explain a concept to you, and overall supportive of each other. They are excited about trying new ideas and talking through innovations to see what we can implement to improve the community around us. That sense of everyone working hard on their own goals but still taking the time to support those around them makes for a strong sense of community here at RVU and is my favorite thing about being here.

What are your medical interests?
Right now I’m torn between family medicine and some surgical specialties but I’m excited to explore them more through rotations so I can make a more informed decision.

What do you appreciate most about Utah and the local area?
It’s wonderful how accessible the outdoors in and how prolific the outdoor community. I definitely need the outdoors and exercise to maintain my sanity and having access to such amazing places makes those mornings spent on the trail even better.

What do you do in your spare time?
I have an eclectic set of hobbies. Besides getting outside to mountain bike, hike, climb, ride horses and camp I absolutely love to cook, bake, brew beer, build furniture. I’m constantly trying to learn as much as I can about each different hobby and occasionally picking up new ones. It keeps life interesting and I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with every little success.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Relax. From now through the rest of your life there’s always going to be more to do than you can accomplishment. Between paperwork, patients, CME, house maintenance, family time, hobbies, trips, and just life in general there will always be more that you can do. Take a breath and focus on what you can do right this moment rather than all the things you still have to get done. It will make every process more manageable. Sometimes, that next step is to just take a moment for yourself; get outside, veg on the couch, just to relax and enjoy where you are at and all you’ve accomplished.

Fun facts about you.
I love woodworking and use mostly hand tools. Some of my tools are planes, drills, and saws from my great grandfather. I’ve only built a couple pieces - a jewelry box, bath board, side tables, and I’m currently working on a bed – but I love how relaxing the process is to completely focus on something so removed from everything going on around me.

What is your favorite class currently and why?
My favorite subject right now is OPP. I am really enjoying my other classwork but there is so much to learn before getting to the more common medical topics that it is nice to be able to actually help friends and family when they are in pain. I may not have a great answer if you ask me about your rash but I will definitely try to help you with your back pain.



Kathryn Forneris, OMS II
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-SU
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I knew I wanted to be an osteopathic physician. Beyond that, I chose RVU-SU based on board scores, match rates, location (which is PERFECT for outdoor enthusiasts), the sense of community, and the curriculum format – I wanted a systems-based curriculum and I loved the added benefit of ultrasound training.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The sense of community. Medical school can be rough, but it’s a lot easier when surrounded by amazing people. I can’t speak highly enough of my peers, the faculty and staff at RVU.

What are your medical interests?
My medical interests are osteopathic family medicine, potentially with a focus on women’s health or Obstetrics/Gynecology.

What do you appreciate most about Utah and the local area?
It’s stunningly beautiful here year-round, and the weather is amazing. We’re pretty much in the epicenter of outdoor recreation, with some of the nation’s best hiking, canyoneering, climbing, and skiing within driving distance.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Applying for medical school was one of the most stressful times of my life. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It will all be worth it!



Colleen Maher, OMS III
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-CO
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I knew when I was applying to medical school that I wanted to go to an osteopathic program. RVU has an excellent curriculum and reputation. Another added benefit for me is that the school is just down the road from my family and where I grew up.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The community. Medical school is a daunting task and everyone struggles at some point during the process whether they admit it or not. The folks I have met RVU are second to none. Everyone from my peers to the faculty, to the administrative personnel, and to security, really and truly want to see our students succeed. The support system we have here at RVU is unparalleled and I feel so grateful to be a part of this community.

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
I’m a Colorado native, born and raised. Colorado is my home and I am more than a little partial to this wonderful state. In typical Colorado fashion, I appreciate all that the mountains have to offer from skiing and snowshoeing during the snowy months to 14ers and camping when things get a bit warmer. One of my favorite parts about Colorado is that you don’t have to go far to get away and find yourself an adventure.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Take a deep breath and keep the big picture in mind. Medical school is hard and first-year can be particularly challenging but believe in yourself. You have put in a tremendous amount of work to get to where you are today and you have the ability to get through this year as well. If you find yourself struggling, reach out to someone you feel comfortable with. RVU has an incredible community and you won’t have to search long to find someone willing and able to help.

Why did you opt for osteopathic medicine?
I have always been interested in primary care and preventative medicine. I am a firm believer that health is about more than the absence of disease. Humans are multifaceted creatures and subsequently caring for these folks must entail more than just treating symptoms. Osteopathic medicine gives you a lens through which you can approach your patients and emphasizes the treatment of the whole person. In a time where medicine has become more specialized than ever, I feel that osteopathic medicine gives you an advantage in connecting with your patients on a fundamental level to partner with them and achieve their most fulfilled life – however, they may define this.



Rasa Rafie, OMS II
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-CO
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
Feeling a sense of community in my medical school was really important to me. I attended a Meet and Greet at RVU and immediately felt that sense of community on campus. Students were hanging out on the lawn, grabbing coffee – it was a really welcoming environment that I was immediately drawn to.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
Hands down, my classmates. Medical school is hard and sharing this experience with such positive, uplifting people makes all the difference.

What are your medical interests?
I am interested in Pediatrics, Neurology, and Addiction Medicine.

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
I love Colorado! Being from California, Colorado feels like the second-best place to live. I love the strong yoga community here and the close proximity to both mountains and lakes!

What are your plans for after RVUCOM?
I plan to apply to residency and to teach global medicine with my Master's degree (hopefully at a medical school).

What advice do you have for first-year students?
YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU EARNED IT! Don’t forget that! First-year can be a time of self-doubt. Make sure that you reward yourself no matter what the accomplishment is. Medical school is a marathon and by taking time to appreciate the small stuff, you will have enough momentum to take you there.

Fun facts about you:
I used to dance pointe ballet and I was born in Iran.

Why did you opt for osteopathic medicine?
I think everyday medicine is becoming more integrative. I wanted to train as an osteopathic physician to have an extra set of tools in my toolbox that I could utilize for my patients.

How is medical school different from what you anticipated?
It’s FASTER. I expected the overflow of information to be fast, but I didn’t expect it to be this fast. With multiple classes happening at the same time, you have to constantly prioritize and reevaluate what you need to study the most.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?
Learning about the human body and treating patients at their most vulnerable times is an honor. I feel grateful every day to be pursuing this field.



Raymond Kwong, OMS II
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-SU
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
The interview process made me feel very welcomed and wanted. I had been to other interviews where I was competing against thirty to seventy other potential students in the same day. The smaller interview groups like I experienced during my RVUCOM interview showed me that the school really took their time to look at potential students.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
Since the Southern Utah Campus is still relatively new going into its third year, I really enjoy the opportunities that student have to create connections and to work with the community.

What do you appreciate the most about Utah and the local area?
There is so much to do outdoors! You can go rock climbing just five minutes away from campus. In thirty minutes, you can go boating or spend time with friends out on the lake. Under two hours, you can be in Zion, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, or you can go snowboarding. When we do get some free time, we try to make the most of it.

What do you do in your spare time?
Right now, James Harley, OMS-II, and I spend our free time making videos about the school and other aspects of the medical school life. We recently made an RVUCOM-SU ad showing other reasons to come to RVUCOM-SU besides the academics. You can check it out at: http://bit.ly/2OTFDqS.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
You are more than just a student. Keep doing the things that make you who you are. Study hard, but don’t get stuck believing you need to study fourteen hours a day everyday for the next four years.



Tesia Kolodziejczyk, OMS III
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-CO
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
Close to home! Being close to my support system was very important to me.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I really like the way the curriculum is set up – I enjoy that we learn normal physiology first year and pathology second year. Repetition is key!

What are your medical interests?
My medical interests are Dermatology, Internal Medicine, and maybe Oncology.

What do you appreciate the most about Colorado and the local area?
I love how accessible the mountains are here in Colorado. We get the best of both worlds – city life and the mountains!

What are your plans after RVUCOM?
I hope to end up practicing in a smaller town and to own two golden retrievers, Moose and Mabel!

What do you do in your spare time?
I love to go fishing whenever I can get away for a bit!

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Repetition – the more times you can review a lecture the better.



Jacob Egget, OMS II
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-SU
What are your medical interests?
I think surgery is amazing, especially orthopedics. The fact that we can “cut to cure” blows my mind. I worked as a scrub technician in the OR for a year and all I could think about was how badly I wanted to be a surgeon.

What do you do in your spare time?
I like to go places with my incredible wife, Carson, and our beautiful daughter, Austen.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Just kidding. Pace yourself. You learn so much amazing stuff in year one, but it just keeps coming and coming and never lets up. If you overdo it in the first couple of classes (like I did), you will struggle to maintain that place in the later ones. Study at a sustainable level each day, and don’t forget to exercise and have fun.

Fun facts about you:
I love reading and writing, and I have published a couple of articles about the medical school online. I look up to physician-writers like Atul Gawande and Michael Crichton.




Karen Norling, OMS II
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-CO
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I chose RVUCOM for the curriculum design, welcoming atmosphere, and opportunities to get involved early in military medicine with the Military Track.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I really like the availability of faculty and their commitment to student improvement. One of the major reasons I chose RVU was the atmosphere, as I have met some amazing mentors and friends in my time here. Close proximity to countless hiking and snowboarding trails doesn’t hurt either!

What are your medical interests?
I find myself interested in many fields, namely Surgery, Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine. I am looking forward to starting rotations next year to explore my interests a bit more.

What are your plans after RVUCOM?
I am a Navy HPSP student, so I will enter into a General Medical Officer (GMO) tour followed by residency, or go straight into residency. I am excited for the possibility of completing a Flight Medicine or Dive Medicine GMO tour. Previous to RVUCOM, I was a tutor and I am interested in teaching medicine at a point later in my career.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
My biggest piece of advice to first-year students is to learn how to manage your time properly. Multiple passes and quizzing over the material help tremendously with retention.

What do you do in your spare time?
Taekwondo, Snowboarding, and Biking.



Natalie Pratt, OMS II
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-SU
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I chose RVUCOM because of its excellent reputation of top board scores in the nation. A nice bonus for me is that it is also located in a beautiful area close to home. It was definitely an easy choice for me to make.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I love how I feel like I belong at RVUCOM. We are all a family and want the best for each other.

How is medical school different from what you anticipated?
I have always been told that medical school is hard, but I didn’t really know what that meant until I was in it. Medical school is very different from undergrad education when it comes to the time commitment, the information retention requirements, and the exams. It is a new level of responsibility, but I have become a stronger person because of it all.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Organization is very important. Professors provide lots of PowerPoints, documents, and resources that can be hard to keep track of. I recommend Microsoft OneNote as a way to consolidate all information for quick access.

What are your plans after RVUCOM?
I will be working for the Air Force as a physician after I graduate. I am planning on becoming a pediatrician because I love to work with children.

What do you do in your spare time?
I like to exercise at the gym, hike, snowboard, cook, and have an occasional Netflix binge.

Fun facts about you:
I participated as a contestant for the Miss Utah USA pageant last year (2018).



Drew Glerum, OMS II
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-CO
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
First of all, in my evaluation of potential schools, I was committed to attending an osteopathic program simply because I see the tools, training, and mindset as invaluable to the physician-patient experience and relationship. Second, I was impressed with the amount of thought, effort, and work put into the curriculum. The way the classes are organized made sense to me and explained the consistently high board score averages from RVU students.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The people. Classmates, staff, and professors alike are supportive and friendly. I’ve made some wonderful life-long friends and have been encouraged and motivated by countless people. On a handful of occasions, I have walked into an office with a question or problem and left feeling so much better after a great conversation with a staff or faculty member.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Ask for help. My first round of medical school applications I was quite the loner. I was too embarrassed to ask people what to include and what to avoid in essays, or how to afford traveling for interviews. A majority of the people I’ve interacted with on this journey are more than willing (in fact, they are thrilled) to help another. Once you’ve made it to medical school, asking for help will be even more helpful – even vital – so get comfortable with it sooner rather than later.

What are some fun facts about you?
I have collected bouncy balls for almost a decade now.
I love anything having to do with Star Wars, coffee, or philosophy.
I am the second of ten kids in my family.


What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
There’s always something fun to do and (almost) always beautiful weather to do it. Regardless of how you define a good time, this place has something for you, especially if it involves being outside. I love the beauty of the hikes in the mountains, the breweries literally everywhere, and dozens of other activities that serve as effective study breaks or exam celebrations. I live just blocks away from the Cherry Creek Trail, and love spending several hours on the weekends biking the trails.




Zoya Sandhu, OMS I
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-SU
Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I chose RVU because of the amazing board scores. I feel like I will be completely prepared for whichever field I choose to go into.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
RVUCOM has a “no students left behind” type of mentality. I’ve seen my peers struggle at the beginning of a course and finish strong because of all the resources available to us.

What are your medical interests?
I am interested in a surgical specialty.

What do you do in your spare time?
I hang out with my dog and go hiking!

What advice do you have for first-year students?
I would encourage first-year students to find something they love about every course and hold on to that, because that is what will motivate you to keep going even when times get tough.

How is medical school different from what you anticipated?
Medical school requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to every situation. One strategy won’t work for every course so be willing to change for the better.




Ben Memmott, OMS I
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-UT
Hometown:
Morgan, Utah

Undergraduate studies:
International Relations and Portuguese

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
President of Ultrasound Society

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
Beautiful Location. Unique Curriculum. Superior Residency Match List History

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The faculty, staff and fellow students. RVU's culture maintains a collaborative team environment where everyone works together, suffers together and succeeds together.

What are your medical interests?
Radiology and Ultrasound

What are your plans after RVUCOM?
I am the only Army student in my class and will be participating in the Army residency program. I do anticipate obtaining an MBA as well, I've always enjoyed business in medicine.

What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time? Hah! I have three lovely children and they are my spare time.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
It is probably harder than you think it is going to be. You’re not perfect, but part of you is pretty awesome. Medical school is a marathon and expect to get knocked around a few times, but keep looking at the horizon because things are much closer than they appear.

What is your favorite class currently and why?
Both neuro and MSK were very exciting and challenging for me. I enjoy learning about the finite detail of the human body and how things are interconnected.



Rachel McLaughlin, OMS I
Hometown:
Colorado Springs

Undergraduate studies:
Biology and Chemistry

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Physician Scientist Track, RVU Ambassador, OB/GYN club, Orthopedic Surgery club, Medical Students For Choice interest group, OPP tutor, JAOA peer reviewer.   

Why did you choose RVUCOM? 
I was born and raised in Colorado and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay in the state for a little while longer!  I knew it was the perfect fit for me as soon as I was able to visit.  

What do you like most about RVUCOM? 
The support I receive from friends and faculty is truly special.  I’ve made wonderful friends here and the faculty is always behind me helping me to succeed. 

What do you do in your spare time?
Once upon a time I was a tennis player.  Now, I mostly mountain bike, rock climb, run, and spend time with my family and friends.  And eat good food! I love good food!

What advice do you have for first-year students? 
You will figure it out!  Everyone has a different way of making it through.  It’s too hard to try to accommodate all the different styles and methods of survival so don’t stress about how someone else is doing school.  My best and honest advice is to tell you that you WILL find your own way.   

Fun facts about you: 
I have the greatest fur-child.  He is a two-year-old Border Collie named Monte and he’s the best!

How is medical school different from what you anticipated? 
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but somehow I think it was exactly this! Hard!

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Take the step.  It’s the absolute coolest thing to study medicine and RVU is a great place to do it!



Abigail Limov, OMS I
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-UT
Hometown:
Nevada City, California

Undergraduate studies:
Saint Martin's University, BS in Biology

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Vice President for the Community outreach and medical mentorship club, Emergency medicine and wilderness medicine club, SOSA.

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
When I came for my interview everyone was so supportive and created a family feel which I didn't find at other schools. 

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
My favorite part about RVU is the collaborative and supportive environment that the students and faculty cultivate. 

What do you do in your spare time?
I love to go hiking in the surrounding state parks! There is such diversity in the environment from desert to 9,000 foot mountains within a half an hour!

Fun Facts about me:
I have hiked the first 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, and over 4,000 miles in my life.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Do what works for you for studying, and don't be afraid to change it up every now and then if it isn't working. Also it's okay if you don't do great on your first exam, medical school is a process of trial and error and it's okay to not do well, because you will learn from that experience either way.



Andrew Jeon, OMS II
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-UT
Hometown:
Apple Valley, Minnesota

Undergraduate studies:
Exercise Physiology

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
I am currently involved with Christian Medical & Dental Associations. It helps me focus on what is truly important to me.

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
On top of RVUCOM’s reputation for having state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for their students, the fact that the Southern Utah campus was brand new was very attractive to me. I really liked the idea of being a part of the inaugural class and interacting with faculty and staff in a unique way. The part that sealed the deal was the interview; I felt that the whole process was very efficient, and the interview felt more like a conversation than an interrogation. Also, the world-renowned Zion National Park is only an hour away!

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I’m not the most outstanding student nor am I involved in every club on campus, but the faculty and staff still recognize me by name. It tells me that they are invested in their students and care for each individual student.

Fun fact about me:
My English name was chosen by a best-of-three match of rock-paper-scissors. If I had won, my name would be Alex but darn, I get to be called Andrew. 🙂

What is your favorite class currently and why?
I love Osteopathic Principles and Practices (OPP). I love learning how the body works and the Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine really resonates with me.

What do you do in your spare time?
I’m kind of a nerd. I spend most of my free time learning about functional medicine and Gonstead methods. Otherwise I like to roller blade or hike.

What are your medical interests?
I am interested in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Rheumatology. These are very personal interests for me because I injured my back when I was in high school and my mom has Rheumatoid arthritis. I also like Family Medicine because of the vast knowledge base that a family physician works with on a daily basis. A friend once told me about a funny theory that if you required all MD/DO physicians of any specialty to retake their same board exam after 10 years of practice, only the family physicians would pass.



Mikenzie Sturdevant, OMS I
Class of 2022 - RVUCOM-SU
Hometown:
Riverton, WY

Undergraduate studies:
Bachelors of Animal Science

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
I am the Pre-SOMA liaison for our SOMA chapter on the Southern Utah campus, a member of SOSA, MSAUP and ACOEP.

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I chose RVUCOM because of their competitive statistics for the boards and the opportunity to be involved in the Rural and Wilderness track. 

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The first time I walked into RVUCOM-SU for my interview, I experienced the feeling of inclusiveness from both the faculty and students. The support system that exists here at RVUCOM is unique in that everyone is approachable and invested in your success. By removing the intimidation factor, that I found interviewing at other institutions, RVUCOM has created a learning environment that brings out the best potential in all of their students. 

  What are your medical interests?
Although I am unsure what specialty I will go into, I enjoy learning about wilderness medicine through ACOEP and my goal is to partake in the Rural and Wilderness track. 

What do you appreciate most about Southern Utah and the local area?
The scenery surrounding RVUCOM-SU is truly breath taking. The accessibility of trails and state parks to the school make for adventurous study breaks.   

What are your plans after RVUCOM?
After graduating and completing residency, I want to go back to Wyoming to practice medicine with my husband Dallas, who is also studying to be a DO, in a rural community.

What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy spending my spare time outside as much as possible. I love hiking, playing soccer and kayaking with my friends and small dog, Stella. 

Fun facts about you:
I am a professional livestock judge for cattle, swine, sheep and goats. In the summer, I am contracted by different counties in Wyoming or Colorado to judge their shows. 



Taylor Yancey, OMS II
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-SU
Hometown:
Sparks, NV

Undergraduate studies:
University of Nevada-Reno; Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science and Biology with In Cursu Honorum Cum Laude

Clubs and Activities:
SGA Curriculum Representative, Community Outreach and Medical Mentors Club Member, and Anatomy Lab Tutor.

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
The interview process at RVU was unlike any other school I had been to on the interview trail. I interviewed with a handful of current classmates and felt that they would be great teammates in this grueling process of medical school. In addition, Dr. Park had great energy and a vision for the school that I wanted to be apart of immediately.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The culture of helping others that starts with the faculty and is infectious amongst my classmates. Whenever there is a need, whether it be school related or not, someone always seems to step up to the plate and help.

What are your medical interests?
My top 5: Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Neurology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and General Surgery.

How is medical school different from what you anticipated?
Having a general passion for learning, it still amazes me that by the 12th-14th hour into studying for the day I am genuinely interested in each individual detail of how incredible the human body is. I have learned more in the past year than I learned in all of college. The speed of content delivered is quicker than you could ever predict going in as a first year.

Fun Facts about me:
I made it to Nationals for College Boxing in 2012 in the lightweight division, love hip-hop music, and can still make 6-8 three pointers in a pickup game of basketball. Although I won student MVP last year, I would like to state for the record my Wife is the “real MVP” and supports me every day through this dream that is becoming a reality.  

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Do not study the summer before medical school begins. You will study hard enough day in and day out during the school year. Come in nice and fresh.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Take care of yourself and maintain healthy relationships. It is easy to put off your own health and talking to family members you love when you are so focused on the curriculum, but it is vital to give your family members a call every once in awhile for them and for you. In addition to this, keep the passion alive and well for the amazement of learning all that there is to learn about the human body. Have fun learning, at the end of the day you get to become a physician, and that is awesome!



Sam Zarbock, OMS II
Hometown:
Draper, UT

Undergraduate studies:
Brigham Young University, Neuroscience

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
SGA President, Tutoring, Peer Mentoring, Doctors in Business Club

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I chose RVU for 3 reasons. (1) Because it produces high caliber, competitive students, (2) because of the autonomy they give their students and (3) it's close to home!

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The autonomy we are given, as students. Because lectures are recorded and lecture attendance is not mandatory, RVU allows every student to study in a way where we can be most successful

  What do you appreciate most about UTAH and the local area?
Southern Utah is beautiful. You are an hour away from world class hiking in Zion's National Park. The backdrop of our school is beautiful, red cliffs. The scenery can't get much better than Southern Utah.

What do you do in your spare time?
If I have spare time I explore cooking new recipes, I play pickle-ball, I swim or spend time with my daughter (who is by far the cutest little girl I know)

First years, here's my advice:
remember the big picture, do what works for you, work hard and stress less.



Marcus Oliver, OMS I
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-SU
Hometown:
Gilbert, AZ

Undergraduate studies:
Neuroscience at BYU

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Quite a few. I started the Anesthesia Club, a founding member of Doctors in Business Society, I’m a peer mentor, I’m in the Physician-Scientist Track and I’m the VP of Communications here at Southern Utah. Sometimes I study, too.

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
The rigorous curriculum and the Standardized Patient lab here really caught my eye. I felt like those two things would really prepare me for the boards.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
I have the chance to create a culture for a school. I was excited to start important programs for myself that I hope will last after I’m gone. Also, at RVUCOMSU, it’s sunny. All it takes to enjoy the beauty of the area is walking out the door.

What are your medical interests?
Anesthesia and Emergency Medicine are my top picks right now.

What are your plans after RVUCOM?
Help people; hopefully in a good residency.

What do you do in your spare time?
 Longboard, Xbox, and hike. Also, I just got a 1980 XT250 which has been a fun project for the summer.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Balance your life, love those who are on this journey with you, and never see set backs as failure.

Why did you opt for osteopathic medicine?
 People are more than symptoms and problems. The Osteopathic Tenet of the body being self-regulating and self-healing really connected with me. Sometimes people just need a little nudge to see they have the power to live healthier, happier lives.



Andrew B. Steinicke, OMS I
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-UT
Hometown:
Kaysville, UT

Undergraduate studies:
Exercise Science

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
SGA Secretary, member of the SAACOFP, peer mentor. 

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
RVU has a great track record for preparing students for boards and residency. I also wanted to stay somewhat close to home.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The people. I’ve made some awesome friends and there is a great spirit of comradery on campus.

What do you do in your spare time?
Basketball, soccer, hiking, biking, guitar, painting, and pickleball.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Study hard and make time for fun things outside of school.

How is medical school different from what you anticipated?
I thought it was going to be a lot less fun than it is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult and stressful at times but it has also been a really good time.



Tony Casper, OMS I
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-SU
Hometown:
Morgan, UT

Undergraduate studies:
Human Biology at Utah State University

Currently involved:
I'm the treasurer in the Emergency Medicine and Wilderness Club, Member of SAACOFP, and Member of the Global Medicine Track.

Why RVUCOM:
Several things drew me to RVU. Their reputation for doing extremely well on the boards, their proven curriculum, and I was excited to be a part of the inaugural class in Utah.

What do you like most about RVUCOM:
Aside from the 24 hour access to a ping pong table? I really love the atmosphere at RVU. It is evident that the faculty is deeply invested in helping you succeed. The professors make lectures interesting, pertinent, and give you all of the resources necessary to do well academically and professionally. Also, the new campus is really impressive, and St. George is a fun place to live, especially for outdoor enthusiasts.

What do you do in your spare time:
Soccer, biking, hiking, cooking, volleyball, and traveling.

What are your medical interests:
One thing I like about medicine is that there are so many options to choose from. I’m sure I will change my mind several times, but so far I’m really interested in emergency medicine, cardiology, internal medicine, and I hope to be involved in humanitarian work.

How is medical school different than what you anticipated:
I didn’t think I would have much of a life outside of medical school. I spend a good amount of time studying, but I still have enough time for family, friends, and hobbies. Medical school is challenging, but it’s really enjoyable as well. Knowing that the things I’m learning and studying every day will be directly beneficial to my future patients gives me a great sense of satisfaction.



Kelli Tichy, OMS I
Class of 2021 - RVUCOM-SU
Hometown:
Denver, CO

Undergraduate studies:
Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University

Graduate studies:
Biomedical Sciences at University of Toledo

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
Woman in Medicine Club and DOCARE International

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
In addition to the incredible reputation, RVU has a strong sense of community and student voice, which I think is important to help shape the future of medicine.

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The faculty are deeply involved and believe in the mission of the school on a personal level, and that is shown by how they interact with us students!

What are your medical interests?
I am extremely passionate in reducing global mortality rates (particularly of diseases we already know how to prevent and treat), HIV and TB.

What do you appreciate most about Utah and the local area?
Utah is a giant playground, and the ability to get outside and experience the gorgeous views (including Zion) is so important to relieve stress.

What are your plans after RVUCOM?
Volunteering overseas for an extended amount of time, I plan on fellowing in Infectious Diseases after working for a few years.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love to ride and train horses (particularly working cowhorses), read, and paint.

Fun facts about you:
I can’t ride a bicycle.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Failure is a good thing, and keep your chin up! The most important key to success is RESILIENCE, so don’t forget that if you are struggling, you are learning.

What is your favorite class currently and why?
I loved IHL (immune/heme/lymph) because I think immunology is an important effector for all pathologies. It is fun to learn something so expansively applicable.



Valerie Martin, OMS I
Hometown:
Plymouth, Utah

Undergraduate studies:
Biology BS with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Utah, Business AS from Salt Lake Community College

Why did you choose RVUCOM?
I was raised on a farm in a small town where we had limited access to healthcare. RVUCOM places great emphasis on helping underserved populations, including rural communities, and that stood out to me when considering my options of medical schools. My final decision to attend RVUCOM was because of the core values that it stands for.  It focuses on preventive medicine and encompasses the traits of integrity, compassion, and excellence in providing patient care. These are skills that I hope to develop and include in my practice as a provider. 

What do you like most about RVUCOM?
The thing I like most about RVUCOM is the resources  that are available to students. We have great study rooms that are equipped with dry erase markers, erasers, and computer projector screens that are perfect for group or individual study. We have tutoring available to us once a week to help with problem areas and supportive staff and fellows who inherently care about each student's individual success. Our University Dean is able to keep track of all of our names, and we have student groups and leadership opportunities that are designed to strengthen our repertoire in becoming the best physicians that we can be. 

What are your medical interests?
I am very interested in infertility and high risk pregnancies. I hope to become an OBGYN and provide solutions and support for families that otherwise struggle in this area. 

Fun facts about you
I grew up on a farm so have experience moving pipe, tending poultry, bottle feeding baby cows, and herding cattle.

Why did you opt for osteopathic medicine?
 I realized that it can provide me with the education and training to distinguish myself as a physician.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Work hard in undergrad and appreciate the chance that you have to learn in every experience. Don't take a class just to get a good grade out of it. Take a class to learn everything you can because that knowledge is power and can help someone you interact with later on in your future.



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8401 South Chambers Rd.
Parker, CO 80112
303-373-2008

For faster response, please direct inquiries to the campus email:
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435-222-1290

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