Kathleen Villaluz

September 27, 2023

MSBS Class 2023
Utah Campus

Where is your hometown?
Las Vegas, NV

Undergraduate studies:
B.S. in Biological Sciences

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Chicago, IL but grew up in Las Vegas, NV. I come from a big family with 3 brothers, tons of cousins, and the most supportive parents you could ask for! We are all super close and grew up living within 5 minutes from each other. Since coming from a larger city, it has been a little bit of an adjustment moving to Utah, but I can’t complain when my backyard is literally a beautiful red mountain! I graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences, and I have always had an interest in pursuing medicine, but would always contemplate the different avenues to practice medicine. After a few years of working and volunteering at various healthcare settings, I decided to seriously pursue my dreams and am grateful to be in the MSBS program!

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
A physician that I was shadowing was an alumni from RVUCOM and brought up the MSBS program, so I started researching more about the program and decided to apply. From the start of the application process, I felt so welcomed and supported by the faculty and it definitely made a huge impact on my decision to pursue this degree specifically at this university. I truly believe that my success and enjoyment during this program is partly because of how supportive everyone has been here– choose people (and a program) that choose you!

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests and hobbies)?
Since I am very close with my family and luckily Las Vegas is only a 2 hour drive from Ivins, whenever I have a “golden weekend” I will usually drive home to relax with family and friends. I also have 2 adorable pups, a chihuahua and yorkie, that I love to take on walks and spend time with. Some of my hobbies include hot pilates/yoga, self-care days like getting facials, and since moving to Utah I’ve really enjoyed climbing and playing pickleball with friends.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
My family is from the Philippines and I am really proud of my culture. Growing up, I would take yearly trips to the Philippines so now I can fully understand the dialect, but it is a bit harder for me to speak the language fluently. However, when I spend a few months in my parent’s hometown, it becomes easier for me to pick up the language. I hope to fluently speak the language one day, and apply aspects of the Filipino culture to advocate for diversity in medicine.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
The best advice that I have received while at RVU hasn’t been from one specific professor, but throughout my time here I’ve always heard, “Be confident and know that you are meant to be here.” This has stuck with me because there have been many times when I’ve felt the infamous “imposter syndrome,” but when I think back to this advice it reassures me that I’m in this program for a reason and to have the confidence in all the hard work I’ve done. Like I’ve said previously, the faculty and staff at RVU have continuously been so supportive and encouraging that it’s hard not to have the confidence in yourself to do the best you can.

What are your medical interests?
I’ve been interested in sleep medicine and how it relates to various diseases and disorders, but I’m also keeping an open mind once I get more exposure to different specialties!

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
My favorite memory from being in RVU so far has just been the camaraderie that I’ve made with my classmates these last few months. For me, building these friendships has made such a positive impact in my time during the program. In Utah, we have a small cohort so we are all comfortable with each other and like to joke around whenever we can, which helps keep things fun during stressful block weeks.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
My advice for prospective students is that balance is key! Work hard and have discipline with your studies, but also know when to relax and take some time to enjoy yourself during the program. The next 9 months are intense, but they also will fly by so quickly and at the end of this, you’ll hopefully have a few new skill sets and experiences that can help you with your future endeavors.