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SPOTLIGHTS

The marketing department works with faculty/staff and students to spotlight individuals through our RVU Community.

Faculty & Staff Spotlights

Get to know the RVU Faculty and Staff who are here to help you exceed at Rocky Vista University. Our accomplished faculty and staff engage in student activities, research, scholarly work, hands-on training and much more.

Research Faculty Spotlights

Student Spotlights

Meet some RVU students who are making and creating news, winning awards, holding leadership positions and generally changing the Rocky Vista University and the world.

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COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE (COM) STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

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.

Click here to read previous COM student spotlights

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES (MSBS) STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Radonis Grissom
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

Click here to read previous MSBS student spotlights

MASTER OF PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT STUDIES (MPAS) STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Dana Filias, PAS II
Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Manchester by-the-Sea, MA

Undergraduate studies:
Wake Forest University - B.S. Mathematical Economics .

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
OB/GYN Club; AMWA, AAPA, and CAPA.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
When I came across RVU I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from a brand new program, but it was a leap of faith that was worth taking. I got such a good feeling from the faculty and other students during my interview, and I have felt that same sense of community throughout my time here as well. RVU fosters a small, student-focused environment that allows you to build close relationships with classmates and professors alike.
Pursuing a career as a PA was always an easy choice for me. I have always been drawn to medicine, but I knew that the role of physician wasn't a perfect fit for me. I craved a role that would allow me the scope of practice to be able to manage patient's autonomously, but that would also provide more of a team-centric, collaborative approach to patient care. Being a PA will also afford me the ability to move around in my career and to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests, and hobbies)?
Much of my free time is spent exploring all of the hiking, scenic views, and craft beer that Colorado has to offer. I love catching a few rays of sunshine wherever possible, but when the weather keeps me indoors, you can find me in a spin class, cooking some variation of tacos, listening to podcasts, and diving into a good DIY project.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I have never broken a bone!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
"Don't try to control the things that you cannot control." There are so many things in PA school and in life in general that will be beyond your control. It is a waste of time and energy to stress about these uncontrollable factors, and it won't make you feel any better. Instead, focus your energy on the things that you can control. If you did poorly on a test, don't argue it. Instead, rethink your study habits.

What are your medical interests?
I like little bits of everything that I have sampled while out on clinical rotations, but I would have to say that I am most drawn towards acute care and hospital medicine.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
Some of my classmates and I made it a tradition to get brunch after every exam during didactic year. We would post-up at Snooze with stacks of pancakes and coffee and sit there chatting for hours on end. It was so much fun to have a few moments to decompress and recharge after a week or two of intense studying, and I will cherish all of those Friday hang-outs.  

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Think about where you are at right now. Think about how badly you want to go to PA school. Now, file that away in your brain for when times get tough. PA school is not easy, and the journey is not smooth. You might fall behind in sleep. You might have to miss out on a friends wedding, or a Holiday spent with your family. You might find the rigorous schedule to be frustrating and inconvenient. Whatever happens, however, you just have to continue to remind yourself why you are doing this and how grateful you are to be here, actively pursuing your dream.

Click here to read previous MPAS student spotlights

RESEARCH STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Eric Haskell, PAS
Master of Physician Assistant Studies
Class of 2021

Colorado Campus

Where is your hometown?
Englewood, CO

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests, and hobbies)?
Adventures with my girlfriend and 10-year-old herding dog, climbing mountains via rock faces, descending mountains on skis, enjoying home-cooked meals with friends around a campfire after a long day outside.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I've flown into various ranges of Colorado for mountain rescue via several different helicopter's including A-Stars, Blackhawks and Chinooks.

How long have you been doing research?
This past year has been my first experience conducting research.

Where did you get your undergraduate? What was your degree?
I received my Bachelors of Art in Philosophy at University of Montana

What type of research are you currently doing at RVU?
My current research looks at the prevalence of traumatic events and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in professional and recreational alpine sports. Prior to being a student at RVU, I worked and recreated in the mountains. I saw numerous accidents and felt their effects on the communities I lived among. PTSD research over the years has expanded from veterans to include other high risk professions and I wanted to further that research. My research will be published in The Avalanche Review this month.

Anything else you would like to share:
Descartes separated the mind from the body; however, my studies in philosophy and medicine have shown me that the two are more interconnected than we think. As future health care professionals, it is important that we contemplate and treat the whole patient, not just one part.

Click here to read previous research student spotlights

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RESOURCES

Rocky Vista University welcomes employment inquiries from qualified individuals who share and support our mission and vision. We value individuals who demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning, community service, and excellence. As one of the newest of the colleges of osteopathic medicine, RVU enjoys an entrepreneurial culture featuring state of the art facilities and innovative approaches to learning.

The faculty and staff are a school's most valuable commodity. They are the basis of the school's success and the future success of its graduates. At RVU, we have a group of employees who are dedicated to the mission of providing quality healthcare education and of inspiring students to serve with compassion, integrity, and excellence. Visit the RVU Directory to get to know the faculty and staff.

The Marketing Department has developed many ways to learn more about RVU, to follow the latest news and events, and to sing the praises of our students, faculty, and staff. In the News Room, you will find press releases, the Vista View newsletter, the Prairie Dogs and Roadrunners blog, and our social media accounts.