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RVU Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences - MSBS

MSBS STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Jency Koshy
MSBS Class of 2022
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Yukon, Oklahoma

Undergraduate studies:
B.S. Chemical Biosciences

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Yukon, Oklahoma. I have two nieces and a nephew that I love and claim as my own children even though my mom says it doesn't count. I received my undergraduate degree in Chemical Biosciences with minors in Pre-Health Social Sciences and Criminology at the University of Oklahoma a few years ago. I worked as a scribe in the emergency department for four years before moving here to Colorado last year for this program! It's my first time moving away from home, and it's been a great (but challenging) journey so far.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but I had a few setbacks in college which led to a less-than-perfect GPA. I took a few random classes at a local community college during my gap years because I wanted to keep learning, but I wasn't really going anywhere. My college counselor told me about Post-bac and Master's programs and I decided to apply and take a definitive step toward medical school. Unfortunately, Oklahoma doesn't have any MSBS-type programs, so an out-of-state program was my best shot. I still remember speaking with Dr. Brooks and Holly last year about RVU, and they gave it such good reviews that I had to see and experience it for myself. I'm very grateful to have this opportunity and can't wait to see what's next.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
My hobbies include procrastination, reading things other than textbooks, and watching TV (currently hooked on Superstore). Since moving to Colorado, I have also enjoyed spending time outdoors and taking in the beauty of the mountains. Oklahoma was slightly on the flatter side, so this is a new landscape for me to explore. My family is all back home in Oklahoma, but I've made great friends in the MSBS program, and I'm afraid they are all stuck with me for life.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you?
I suppose it's a little cliché to say I'm not very interesting, but the only thing that really comes to mind is that I'm a super fan of superhero movies. The Avengers is my go-to feel-good movie.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
I still have the notecard that Dr. Towne had us fill out before our very first exam last August, and I look at it before every test. Breathe, don't change your answer, trust yourself, you belong here. Not only is it helpful, it reminds me where I started and how far I've come.

What are your medical interests?
As of right now, I think my interests are fairly widespread. I've shadowed and worked in a few different fields including EM, Family Med, and Hem-Onc, but I'm not sure where I would fit just yet. I'm open to anything and hopefully, I'll find out where my place is in the next few years. However, I can confidently say that I will never be a surgeon, and I think that's best for both me and everyone else.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
I honestly don't know if I could pick just one memory. In general, I would say it's getting to hang out with my friends and peers outside of school. As fun as our beloved MSBS 125 room is, it's great to see people out in the real world too. Whether it's studying at a coffee shop, grabbing food after a block exam, or even going to our RVU gala, getting to know everyone has been a highlight of my year. 

What advice do you have for prospective students?
I would tell them to prepare themselves for a very difficult academic challenge but that the end result is proportionally rewarding. Outside of the rigorous course material, they will learn a lot about themselves, they'll learn new study habits, and they'll make friends for life. They'll also experience a real preview of what medical school or PA school would look like. It is a great step into the field of medicine and an honorable degree to hold. Even though the year is not over, I am already so proud of myself and my class for making it this far. Graduation is just around the corner, and I know we can't wait for all of our hard work to pay off.



Stephen Wong
MSBS Class of 2022
Southern Utah Campus

Hometown:
Sandy, UT

Undergraduate studies:
B.S. Exercise Sciences

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My interest in medicine started when I got injured playing basketball in high school. Turns out I damaged my meniscus and needed surgery. My surgeon was incredible, and offered to show me the recording of the surgery. I was fascinated by how the surgeon made it look so straightforward and easy and I knew that's what I wanted to do. After I finished my undergrad degree, I started working as an operating room tech and was able to be part of the surgical team. I gained a lot of valuable experience while working in the operating rooms and am excited to continue to pursue my dream while at RVU.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I needed a way to improve my academics since I was applying to medical schools a few years after I had finished my undergraduate degree. I felt that a Master's degree would go a long way in proving my ability during applications and I had heard really great things about the staff and curriculum at RVU. The MSBS program at RVU offered an opportunity to earn a seat in the College of Medicine by performing at a high level in the Master's program, while earning a Master's degree at the same time. RVU has been an amazing opportunity and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I love the outdoors! My wife and I love hiking, camping, fishing, and mountain biking.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you?
Indiana Jones is my hero.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
This is the time to lay the foundation that will be built upon for the entirety of our medical career. Put your head down and get to work.

What are your medical interests?
Orthopedic surgery.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
Believe it or not, the time I have spent studying with my buddies has been incredibly rewarding. We have pushed each other to study more and do better in classes and on exams. This is certainly going to be one of my favorite memories from my time at RVU.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
The MSBS program is extremely difficult, partly due to how quickly the program proceeds. Incoming students need to be ready to work hard starting day one, and need to be ready to make adjustments to their study plan when hiccups happen. You can succeed at this very difficult program, but it does take a lot of effort so be ready early.



Jose “Tony” Arreola-Patino
MSBS Class of 2022
Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences (MSBS)
Class of 2022
Southern Utah Campus
Hometown:
Newdale, ID

Undergraduate studies:
BS in Biology from Utah State University

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was raised in a small farming community in Southern Eastern Idaho and have always enjoyed living in rural areas. Before coming to RVU, I worked as an ER Technician in the hospital and really enjoyed the fast pace and being able to interact with a variety of patients.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I was initially introduced to the MSBS program by Dr. Benjamin Brooks during one of his visits to USU. At the time, I was searching for a way to bolster my application to medical school that would be more meaningful than simply taking additional undergraduate coursework. After speaking with Dr. Brooks, he made me feel like they genuinely care about their students and look beyond the GPA and MCAT metrics to the person as a whole. After speaking with previous students and interacting with additional staff, I felt that RVU would provide the resources necessary to help their students succeed in both academic and professional development. In addition, I chose RVU’s MSBS program because of the strong foundation the curriculum provides for continued success in medical school.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I enjoy competing in stock dog competitions, riding horses, and exploring trails in the mountains on side-by-sides. I also enjoy game nights with family and friends.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you?
I taught my blind dog how to play fetch, and he is surprisingly good at it.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
Don't just memorize, but take the time to learn and conceptualize the information. Initially, it takes time, but it will make studying and learning easier and faster as the year gets more challenging. Also, take breaks! Short five-minute breaks while studying and longer breaks after block exams to go out and do something fun that isn't studying really help prevent burnout.

What are your medical interests?
Emergency Medicine.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
This is a very rigorous program, so it is crucial that you work hard from day one and don't fall behind. Everyone has a different way of learning, so take the time to find something that works for you beforehand, and don't be afraid to make adjustments as the year progresses. Also, enjoy what you are learning! It makes studying for countless hours easier.



Brandon Muse
MSBS Class of 2021
Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences (MSBS)
Class of 2021
Southern Utah Campus
Hometown:
Ivins, UT

Undergraduate studies:
Public Health

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a born and raised Utahn that comes from a family of 6. I was raised in Ogden before my family moved down to St. George right after I graduated from high school. I did my undergrad at USU so I got to experience the coldest of Utah in the winter and the hottest of Utah in the summer. I also met my wife at USU and we couldn’t decide where to get married in Utah so we met in the middle and got married in Hawaii.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I chose RVU because I have many close friends that have highly recommended it to me. It's also a nice bonus that it's so close to home and family.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I love playing tennis, pickle ball, basketball, hiking, mountain biking, XBOX, and watching the Utah Jazz disappoint me from time to time.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you?
I'm colorblind, which makes getting dressed a challenge.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
Dr. Towne has us remind ourselves that we belong here, which has served as a great confidence booster when I'm feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.

What are your medical interests?
I'm still exploring as of right now, but I did get to work as a CNA on the medial floor of a hospital and the Internists got me pretty interested in what they do.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
I would recommend going to office hours and reaching out to faculty. They genuinely care about you and want you to succeed!



Stacey Clark
MSBS Class of 2022
Colorado Campus
Hometown: Zachary, Louisiana
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am from a fairly small town outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I love to dance and watch football. I also have a pomsky named Princeton who keeps me busy. For my undergraduate studies, I attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas where I earned my BS in Forensic Anthropology in 2021. Sic' Em Bears!

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decided to pursue this degree?
Upon graduating from Baylor, my MCAT was not the best. I knew that I needed to work on improving my score; however, I did not want to take a gap year. I knew that attending a post baccalaureate program was a great option to improve as a student without taking a gap. I chose RVU because of the supportive atmosphere, as well as the many resources available to all students. I appreciated how the school focused on the student overall, regardless of their test scores. The faculty works diligently to make all students feel comfortable, while simultaneously preparing them for the rigors of many healthcare professions.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
When I am not studying, I enjoy dancing, running, and drawing. Outside of school, I enjoy traveling and experiencing different parts of the world.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
Make an organized schedule. You will be surprised how much more you are able to accomplish when you have a set schedule.

What are your medical interests?
My medical interests include cardiology, pediatrics, and emergency medicine.

What is your favorite memory of being at RVU?
My favorite memory from being in RVU so far is the community service project that we had to do for medical humanities. We went to Denver to help with COVID vaccines given to the community. It was a great way to help the community and represent RVU in ways other than academia.

What advice do you have for incoming MSBS students?
My advice is to come into this program with an open mind. Know that this program is challenging and the strategies used in undergrad may or may not suffice for this program, but it will prepare you for your future healthcare endeavors. You will succeed if you work hard and believe that you are here for a reason.



Alexandra (Alex) Ortiz-Jiminez
MSBS Class of 2021
Colorado Campus
Hometown: Wichita, KS
Tell us a bit about yourself:
My husband and I have two little boys, and while they take up the majority of the time I don't spend studying, they're my source of motivation. I don't think I would be able to make it through this program without them. I'm originally from Wichita, KS and graduated from Wichita State University in 2019.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decided to pursue this degree?
I knew I wanted to do some kind of post-baccalaureate degree before going into medical school because I didn't feel like my study skills were good enough to be successful. I decided to come to RVU specifically because of the culture here. The faculty are so incredibly supportive and genuinely want you to succeed in whatever it is you aspire to do. They provide you with the resources to grow as a student, and they view you individually and holistically. You are more than just GPA or test scores. In addition, the curriculum gives you the foundation for what you need to know in a professional medical career so you're not spending time learning a lot of information that may or may not be relevant to you later.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
I enjoy baking, hiking, and searching out new restaurants to try.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
Break down your work into little pieces, and then do those pieces one at a time, spreading them out across the week if you need to.

What are your medical interests?
Cardiology or cardiothoracic surgery.

What advice do you have for incoming MSBS students?
Everyone says this but it's just so important: make sure you're not falling behind. Break down the work as you need to and spread it out over a few days, but be sure you have a realistic schedule so that you don't get backed up. You just can't learn everything the day before the test.

Also, if you're working and start losing focus or getting anxious, just take a break and do something else for ten minutes. You won't retain the information if you're using all of your energy to force yourself to learn.



Radonis Grissom
MSBS Class of 2021
Colorado Campus
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Undergraduate studies:
Valdosta State University, BS-Chemistry (2011)

Graduate studies:
Valdosta State University, MAT-Secondary Education (2013)

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm an Air Force veteran, former high school AP chemistry teacher, current husband, long-time uncle, and second-oldest of four siblings.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?


I was originally introduced to RVU by a community college professor in 2019 while completing post-bacc coursework as a career-changer. The professor was very supportive and adamant that I pursue every avenue possible to achieve my goal of becoming a physician, so I began researching the RVU MSBS program. In spring 2020, I attended an open house event where I had the opportunity to converse with Dr. Towne and Dr. Roberts directly to discuss my goals, my background, my weaknesses, and current progress toward medicine. As a career changer, my academic history looks quite different from "typical" medical school applicants, I knew that I needed a structured program to prepare for the rigors of medical education. After lengthy conversation, it was clear to me that the program faculty would invest as much into me as I would invest in the program and they genuinely wanted to help me reach my goals. I went home that afternoon, talked it over with my wife, and we decided to submit the application to RVU for the MSBS program--and here I am today!

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
My wife and I enjoy visiting new cities, going on cruises (not so much right now since we're all living the pandemic life), and playing with our dog, Remy. As with most people in CO, in the winter months I ski if I can find time; in the warmer months, I enjoy taking Remy to different off-leash dog parks, going on long, aimless drives, and finding interesting hikes across CO. I also enjoy sudoku, mechanical puzzles, and nature documentaries.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you?
My freshman year of college, I lost almost all the skin on my face, neck, and left forearm & hand due to a fire incident (think Two-Face from Batman, but both sides of my face). Amazingly, I didn't require any skin grafting and now its barely noticeable unless I point it out. Stop, drop, and roll really does help if you're engulfed in flames!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
I was told to "speak up & speak out because people listen when you speak and learn from what you share."

What are your medical interests?
My current interests are interventional radiology, cardiology, OB/GYN, ophthalmology, PM&R, and anesthesia. Honestly, as I gain more exposure, I may encounter a specialty that "sweeps me off my feet," so I'm realistically approaching my journey with as much of an open mind as I can muster.
Aside from "medical" medicine, I'm an advocate for reducing health disparities in the Black community; I believe the key to addressing these disparities is rooted in equitable education (medical school, residency, fellowship, conferences, etc.) and diverse representation. We all have a responsibility in remediating our society to facilitate better healthcare for all patients

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
My favorite memory so far was the student-led Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit. The forum afforded many the opportunity to learn from each other and thoughtful guest speakers. Individuals from varying backgrounds were very open about their experiences, implicit biases, and self-identified blind spots in a way that highlighted humility and sincere engagement with a sensitive topic. Additionally, the engagement of faculty and RVU administrators demonstrated institution-level investment and genuine dedication to being part of the solution in today's dynamic, constantly evolving healthcare landscape.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Research, research, research! A graduate degree, especially one as challenging as the MSBS, is a major commitment and investment. Learn as much as you can about the programs and if possible, attend open house events and speak with program faculty & current students directly. Also, remember to be kind to yourself because the road to becoming a physician, PA, NP, dentist, etc. is tough and it looks different for everyone, so try not to compare your progress to others too often



Ricky Oshakuade
MSBS Class of 2021
Hometown: Wichita, KS
Why did you choose the MSBS Program?
I chose the MSBS program because of the curriculum which provided a thorough coverage of the foundational knowledge we will be learning in the college of medicine. Additionally, the culture of curiosity that is cultivated by the students and faculty further supported my decision in choosing the MSBS program.

What do you like most about RVU MSBS Program?
What I like most about the MSBS program is the culture of curiosity and the ways that the faculty encourage us to ask questions and grow inside and outside of the classroom.

What are your medical interests?
Emergency Medicine

What are your plans after completing the RVU MSBS Program?
Attending RVUCOM and specializing in Emergency Medicine.

What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor biking, videography, and cooking.

Why did you opt for Osteopathic Medicine?
I chose osteopathic medicine for its holistic approach to medicine. To me, it makes the most sense to view the body as one unit of mind, body, and spirit when providing patient care. Additionally, I was drawn to the ways that osteopathic medicine focuses on preventative care.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
My advice for prospective students would be to use every semester as a platform for growth not only as a student but outside of the classroom as well. In your pursuit to becoming a healthcare provider, working for good grades is just as important as working on your character outside of the classroom. Your future patients will remember you more so based off of your character rather than solely based upon your medical knowledge.



Adriana Perez
MSBS Class of 2019
Hometown: Carbondale, Colorado
Are you glad you chose the RVU MSBS Program and why?
I am very privileged to be able to be a part of the MSBS program. This program has not only prepared me academically,  but it has also helped me develop stronger study habits, become a better learner and really develop strong time management skills.

What do you like most about RVU MSBS Program?
My favorite thing about RVU are the professors because they are so passionate, so caring, so enthusiastic about their field, and are always available to help. Their energy and passion make going to class fun!

How is the RVU MSBS Program helping you reach your future goals?
The MSBS program has helped me learn how to be a better test-taker, which has always been one of my biggest weaknesses. I have always struggled with doing well on standardized tests like the ACT or the MCAT. This program has helped me identify specific weaknesses in this area and find different strategies to address those weaknesses.

What are your plans after completing the RVU MSBS Program?
I plan on starting medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the fall.

What advice do you have for incoming MSBS students?
This program will be very challenging, and there will be times in which you doubt yourself or your abilities to get through it. As the program continues, you will see how important the information that you are learning is, and how this program is truly setting you up for a successful healthcare career. The professors and staff here truly care about each and every student, so don’t ever be afraid to ask for help!

How is the fact that the MSBS Program is affiliated with a medical school influenced your education?
This affiliation has provided the space for me to interact with medical students in many different ways. Medical students are always willing to answer questions about RVU, medical school in general, and OPP. Our tutors are also medical students, and they go above and beyond to help us understand the material and to support us through this program in any way that they can.

What is your favorite class currently and why?
My favorite class is the Molecular Basis of Medicine course because we are always being encouraged to think outside the box and challenge what we think we know as students/scientists.



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