While their college careers are just beginning, freshmen twins Christina and Danielle Gonzalez, aspiring to be an oncologist and orthopedic surgeon, respectively, can imagine a day when they operate a clinic together. The journey is certain to present some challenges, but the name will be easy — Gonzalez & Gonzalez.
To get started down this road, the sisters took advantage of the fourth annual CU Pre-Health Day at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The event drew more than 350 undergraduate and high school students who spent a recent Saturday at CU Anschutz learning about health care professions.
The Gonzalezes were joined by fellow Colorado State University-Pueblo classmate Aden Martinez, who said it’s never too soon to consider career options. “We like to get exposed to health careers early while we can and maybe in later years come back and learn more about what the campus here has to offer,” said Martinez, who is eyeing the chiropractic field. The trio started the day attending a session about preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect of Colorado,” said Danielle Gonzalez, who grew up in Florida. “I expected this to be a smaller campus, but it’s actually very big and it looks very professional. It looks like everybody here knows exactly what they want to do.”
Pre-Health Day showcased nine professional and translational research fields — dental medicine, public health, biomedical research, nursing, pharmacy, physician assistant, anesthesiologist assistant, physical therapy and medicine — and educated students about the admission and application process, how to prepare for entrance exams and exposed them to current students and alumni who had made the transition to health care careers.
“It’s days like this where students can actually speak with representatives on campus and get some one-on-one face time,” said Justin Rowe, senior recruiting specialist in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Web sites are great for providing information, he said, but “it’s events like this where you can ask questions and get information directly from experts who are qualified to give you valuable advice.”
The groups split between sessions in the Education 2 Building (undergraduates) and Education 1 (high school students). Tyler Carpenter, a freshman at Falcon High School near Colorado Springs, traveled to Aurora with his family. “I want to explore all the health stuff,” said Carpenter, who is especially interested in forensic pathology.
Carl Johnson, director of student engagement at CU Anschutz, said the aspiring health students heard not only practical advice from current CU Anschutz students and alums, but also inspiring messages about bettering society as a whole. He said representatives from all seven CU Anschutz schools and colleges — School of Dental Medicine, Graduate School, School of Medicine, College of Nursing, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Colorado School of Public Health — took turns describing their disciplines to a room full of hundreds of students.
Sense of camaraderie
“It was amazing how that sense of camaraderie came through about the importance of the health sciences field in general, and how they’re all looking at ways to give back,” Johnson said. “That’s what this event is about — just to celebrate and honor what CU Anschutz is. Here, it’s not just about one particular school or college, but how all the disciplines interact and how significantly they impact health care — hospitals, clinics and rural medicine — in Colorado and around the world.”
This global message of the importance of health care resonated with the student participants, including the Gonzalezes from Pueblo. Both sisters were impressed by CU Anschutz and the quality of its many educational, clinical and research offerings. “It’s definitely something I’m going to look into,” Danielle said. Christina added, “I’m definitely planning on applying here.”
Editor’s note: The video was produced by Stephanie Carlson, content producer, Marketing & Communications, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.