USD Alumna Looks Ahead to Medical School

USD Alumna Looks Ahead to Medical School

"Oh the places you will go!" While Dr. Seuss may have imagined a whole book of fantastical imaginary places, one recent USD alumna of the College of Arts and Sciences knows exactly where she will be next fall.

After applying to a whopping 30-plus medical schools, Priscilla Perez '18 was admitted to UCSD's School of Medicine - her top choice. When she starts graduate school this fall, she aspires to become a surgeon and help others by serving in the emergency room.

The anthropology major, with a biology minor, recently chatted with the College about her medical school hopes for the future, and also reminisced about her favorite moments at USD as a member of several student organizations.

In our full Q&A with Perez, she offers advice to current USD students looking ahead to their own graduation, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the amazing places they will go. 


1. Tell us how you decided on a medical school to attend.

I was born and raised in San Diego, and have my family and friends here, so wanting to stay was a no-brainer. I also volunteered at the UCSD hospital in Hillcrest for four years and loved my experience. Through volunteering in the Emergency Department and seeing the diverse patient population we served, I knew that I would have the opportunity to work with a wide range of patients if I chose to attend UCSD.

Lastly, this medical school has so many opportunities for students to get involved in community work, such as the free student-run clinics, which was very important for me to see as an applicant. I chose to attend UCSD ultimately because of how I felt while on campus - it felt like home and I knew it was the school for me.

2. What are you looking forward to most?

I'm really looking forward to my clinical rotations in my third and fourth years. I'm excited to get hands-on experience and explore different medical specialties. In these rotations, I'll get to function as a member of the medical team. These rotations are very important in helping students decide which specialty they pursue, as well as preparing them for residency. I'm most excited to "scrub in" on surgeries during my surgical rotations.

3. What are your postgraduate/career aspirations?

As of now, I'm very interested in doing a surgical or emergency medicine residency after I graduate medical school. Having volunteered in the Emergency Department, I enjoyed the fast-paced environment, the work ER physicians do and the diverse patient population.

Through the USD Scripps Mercy Trauma Surgery Internship, I had the opportunity to shadow surgeons and observe surgeries. Surgery is amazing and I could definitely see myself working in the operating room for the rest of my career. 

4. While you were a USD student, how were you involved in the campus community?

I was involved in several student organizations on campus, including Mortar Board, Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Anthropology Club. Having leadership positions in these organizations helped me to develop my leadership and teamwork skills – skills medical schools look for in an applicant. One of my favorite memories from my time at USD is when HOSA went to our first-ever state competition to compete against other schools in medical-related events. At the competition, USD took home many medals including my first place medal in the collegiate division for the medical terminology event!  

5. Do you have any advice for current USD students?

The best advice I can give is to do activities that you want to do and are passionate about, not what you feel you have to do as a pre-health student. It is your unique experience that will set you apart from other applicants. Choose activities that you enjoy and can commit to long-term. Personally, community service is very important to me and I chose to focus more of my time serving the community. I was involved with a few different organizations during college and served as an AmeriCorps during my first gap year. Overall, just be yourself and do what makes you happy, and that will come through in your application.

6. What would you like to tell graduating seniors who are finishing their USD journey remotely?

My advice is to use this time to focus on your studies and get ahead on preparing to apply to health professional schools - whether that be studying for the MCAT, working on your personal statements or polishing your applications. This time is also great for spending time with family and practicing self care. The application process can be quite exhausting, so get in those naps while you can!

7. Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your desire to enter the medical field?

This pandemic has deepened my respect for medical professionals and increased my desire to be one. I am as motivated as ever to learn the skills and knowledge needed to be able to help in the future.  

8. Given the current needs due to COVID-19, how do you hope your future medical practices will make a difference?

Regardless of which medical speciality I choose, I hope to make a difference by being there for my patients, whether I am treating those with COVID-19 or with other illnesses.  

Pricilla Perez

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