Raven Vella; University of Connecticut class of 2020; Major: Structural Biology/Biophysics; Minor: Mathematics; The Ohio State university College of Medicine MD/Phd Program class of 2018
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Why did you choose to pursue a career in healthcare?

I've always been passionate about learning and discovery, so I wanted a career where I would always be intellectually challenged. However, I really like working with children, and I enjoy helping kids grow and develop their sense of self. Ultimately, I decided to pursue an MD-PhD because I want to be pushing science forward and making discoveries while also seeing those advances in action with my patients- making a real difference in their lives.

What were some meaningful extracurricular activities that you were involved in while at UConn?

I worked in two research labs (one in the Molecular and Cellular Biology department and one at UConn Health), I was a tutor for Honors Biology 1107, and I was a leader in Community Outreach for America Reads.

What were some challenges you have faced along your healthcare journey so far, and how have you overcome them?

Medical school is really challenging! I'm thankful for all my professors at UConn who prepared me well for the rigorous medical school curriculum.

What are some ways that you take care of your mental health and overall wellbeing?

I'm an avid hiker! Whenever we have a free weekend in medical school, I take the time to explore nature with my friends. During study breaks, I like to knit and read.

What advice do you have for aspiring pre-health students?

Don't be scared to try something a little unorthodox. I tried out a computer science class just out of curiosity, and now I'm getting a PhD in bioinformatics. You should learn whatever you're interested in! Don't worry so much about what will look good to an admissions committee. If you're passionate about something, go for it!

What’s something you wish you knew in college?

I wish I had taken a diverse course load. I think in some ways I was afraid to challenge myself with unfamiliar material, but now I wish I had learned more about the humanities and art along with all the science.