Pre-Health Student Leadership Advisory Board

 18-19 Advisory Board

18-19 Pre-Health Student Leadership Advisory Board

The Pre-Health Student Leadership Advisory Board exists to foster communication, collaboration, and purposeful improvement between UVA Pre-Health Advisors and students pursuing admission to health professional programs.


  • Establish consistent communciation among pre-health students and advisors in an effort to enhance the experience of pre-health students across grounds.
  • Identify, support, and collaborate on pre-health programs across health-related student organizations (CIOs) and Pre-Health Advising.

18-19 Advisory Board Members

Abigail Hoang | Fourth Year | Biology | Optometry | Pre-Optometry Club

I've always had an inclination for helping others, whether it is lending a hand, comforting and listening to a friend, or even just putting a smile on someone's face, which are some of the reasons why I believe that pursuing optometry can allow me to help out the greater community. Optometrists have an important role by diagnosing eye diseases, easing people into the transition of wearing glasses or contacts, and also providing the opportunity for patients to see the world much more clearly, through all sorts of lenses. For these reasons, I truly admire the profession and various ways optometrists are able to provide for their patients. I do recommend shadowing a local optometrist or working for one at their office. Most are happy to help and are genuinely interested in exposing you to the optometric field.


Amanda Peck | Third Year | Medicine | Global Public Health | Phi Delta Epsilon (PhiDE)

I grew up in a family of medical professionals and have always enjoyed hearing their stories. When I was younger I would shadow my father in his GI office and I just found the medical profession to be so interesting. I also was able to watch a general surgeon hold intestines in his hand and I thought it was so cool! I love how in the medical profession you can always help other people and learn something new every day. Although it is a long and grueling path, the reward in the end is so worth it! As Dr. Shepard said, "It's a beautiful day to save lives!".  


Ana Torres | Fourth Year | Kinesiology | Medicine | Member at Large

I chose to pursue medicine as a career path because it encompasses helping others, science, problem-solving, hands-on work, mentoring, and so much more into a unique, evolving job. My advice to those pursuing a similar career is to be open-minded about your journey. It's okay to have a plan but don't worry or be surprised if that plan changes once (or 10 times) before you reach your goal. If medicine is something you want, work hard, reach out for help, and never give up!


Anusha Saga | Fourth Year | Neuroscience | Alpha Epsilon Delta

Science was always intriguing to me, and as I continued exploring potential career opportunities throughout high school and college, my experiences volunteering and shadowing pushed me towards a career in medicine. Speaking to doctors through physician dinners and scribing for a retina specialist showed me how unique and challenging the career was - here was an opportunity to devote my life to serving others, while constantly being challenged and learning more through every patient experience. Medicine as a career path is very challenging and takes true passion and hard work to pursue. My advice to students pursuing pre-health is to pursue every opportunity to learn more about a career in health, but also relax and enjoy the college experience. College is the last opportunity to explore new interests, and figure out who you are and what you want your life to be about.


Brigitte Lieu | Second Year | Medicine | Biology & Psychology | Member at Large

Since childhood, I have been drawn to the sciences and medicine in particular. Through shadowing, extracurricular activities, coursework, and conversation, I’ve found that the life of a health professional—more specifically, a psychiatrist—best suits my academic interests and skillset. With mental health concerns on the rise, I expect that careers in this field will increase in demand and prove rewarding to those who can make a positive contribution to the cause. My advice to fellow pre-health students is to try your best to focus on your own path; it’s all too easy to find yourself caught up in the competitive atmosphere of this track. Make sure to explore genuine interests and hobbies of yours instead of approaching your pre-health life as a mere checklist. Wahoowa!


Connor Siggins | Second Year | Medicine | Chemistry | Member at Large

I’m working towards becoming a Cardiologist, and more specifically I’m interested in intensive cardiac rehab, which is a holistic approach to the treatment of coronary artery disease that involves diet, exercise and stress relief. As an avid runner, I’m passionate about the role lifestyle choices play in our health, and I hope to advance the practice of lifestyle medicine with the aim of reducing healthcare costs in America. I encourage incoming pre-health students to focus on finding a field that allows them to meld their interest in medicine with their other passions in life. It’ll make the course material more interesting and provide a light at the end of the very long tunnel that is the pre-health track.


Elizabeth Oldhouser | Fourth Year | Nursing | Biology & Cognitive Science | Member at Large

I am pursuing a health professional career in nursing because I am attracted to patient-centered care and a valued patient-caretaker relationship. I would highly recommend to aspiring pre-health students to shadow a person in their position of interest to gain a greater understanding of day-to-day life for each of these specialties. I also recommend participating in medical mission trips, such as Global Medical & Dental Brigades, and/or studying abroad at some point in their undergraduate career. Overall, search for different perspectives and lenses to view the field from, and appreciate the diverse methods and approaches of altruistic care.


Divya Rengarajan | Fourth Year | Medicine | English | Women in Medicine Initiatives  

I choose to go into medicine because it is a combination of the humanities and sciences on a daily basis, both of which I am incredibly passionate about. With a career in medicine, I can interact with different personalities and cultures while making a substantial impact on individuals' health through my knowledge and training. Medicine is unique because it is related to every facet of life, including but not limited to education, family life, and mental health. I would like to be a confidant, a resource, and a guide to my patients in order to help them live a healthier and well-balanced life.


Hannah Chung | Fourth Year | Biochemistry | Medicine | American Medical Student Association

I came into college undecided and unsure of what I wanted to study. But after various experiences such as shadowing, attending medical student and physician panels, and talking with mentors, I decided to pursue the field of medicine. It’s definitely a mental, physical, financial, and emotional commitment.But at the end of the day, when you are able to help people when they need it the most, when they are looking to you as their last hope, I think that makes the journey all worth it. I would recommend going out there to obtain as much experience as you can to see if medicine is truly what you wish to do! And don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything and everything, you’d be surprised how willing people are to share and to give advice!


Helen Query | Third Year | Physician Assistant | Biology & Spanish | Future Physician Assistant Society  

I am interested in becoming a Physician Assistant because I love the flexibility that it offers. I like that the PA profession allows you to practice medicine and still have the option to change specialties and explore new fields. I knew from a young age that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine and after researching my options, I decided that PA school would give me the most freedom to enjoy life outside of my job and still practice what I love. Even though the path to any career in the medical field is long and difficult, if you keep your end goal in mind and stay focused, it will all pay off in the end.


Jennifer Chen | Fourth Year | Physical Therapy | Biology | Pre-Physical Therapy Association  

I have always had a deep-rooted curiosity towards the complexity of the human body, which sparked my initial interest in physical therapy. Spending some time volunteering at a PT clinic after my first year allowed for me to gain more insight into what the practice involves. I decided to continue in this direction after seeing how PTs treat patients with a wide array of physical injuries or conditions through devoted, personal interaction and a foundational knowledge of human movement and function. I admire how they, quite literally, help individuals to get back on their feet. I also value how their job encompasses that of a pain-reliever, problem-solver, educator, and more. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work with different populations, including underserved populations such as individuals with disabilities, in various healthcare settings, further solidifying my desire to pursue PT. One of the most important things I have learned is that while several individuals may have the same exact injury or condition, they could be going through completely different experiences based on their circumstances. My advice to those pursuing any career in healthcare is to allow your experiences to help you understand what people are going through from their perspective.


Jillian Faber | Fourth Year | Dentistry | Cognitive Science | Pre-Dental Society 

I am pursuing a health professional career because I have a passion for both science and meeting new people. I chose dentistry more specifically because the dental field not only presents a unique technical challenge, but also allows doctors to form life-long relationships with their patients. With ever-changing techniques and technological advancements, dentistry is a career that truly entails life-long learning. My advice to those interested in dentistry is to begin shadowing; there is no substitute for first-hand experience. UVA offers numerous shadowing opportunities through Madison House, the Hospital, the Charlottesville Free Dental Clinic, and Pre-Dental Society.


Joyce Hong | Third Year | Veterinary Medicine | Biology | Pre-Vet Society

I've always loved animals. Combined with my interest in science, veterinary medicine was the natural path to follow. Animals are crucial for society as livestock, labor, and companions. Helping and advocating for these intelligent but otherwise speechless creatures and their owners is so rewarding. I'm interested in small animal surgery and humane stray population management. My advice to other students is to choose a career you will actually enjoy. Try it out as well! As much as I wish it was, veterinary medicine is not just "playing with puppies" --- there's so much more that goes into animal healthcare. Shadowing and working in the field will help you understand realities of the work and allow you to determine if it's something you'll love.


Kennedy Radix | Third Year | Medicine | Kinesiology | HOSA

My interest in the medical profession ultimately stemmed from being a premature baby, being born almost two months early. After exploring other career paths, I knew that medicine was the truest fit for me. As a lover of science and the intricacy of the human body, medicine is the only career path that allows me to continue to pursue this passion. In the future, I hope to either work in either obstetrics or sports medicine. 


Lauren Simonides | Second Year | Medicine | Public Health Policy | Member at Large

Pursuing a career in health combines both my interests in the sciences and also motivates me in my desire to help others. Being pre-health, while often seen as a very rigid health track, still manages to give me to explore my interests and do work with public policy, allowing me to have my time in the lab, but also have time with active engagement in healthcare policy reform. Words of Wisdom for other students pursuing the same path: Being pre-health does not, and should not, mean you need to be dropping all non-science related interests and hobbies! You just have to have the drive to find a balance between your work and your hobbies, and make time for the things you enjoy to do!


Mackenzie Shannon | Fourth Year | Medicine | Global Public Health & Religious Studies | Madison House – Medical Services

I hope to pursue a medical degree in Ob/Gyn while also working towards my Masters of Public Health.  I believe that a career in medicine enables me to serve others in a practical and meaningful way.  I love that medicine takes into consideration the whole person—their history, environment, relationships, etc.  As such, I think the interplay between the public health field and the clinical field will become more and more crucial in the developing world.  Throughout my time at UVA, I’ve learned that the most important component of being a successful pre-med student is critical reflection.              


Megan Plain | Third Year | Medicine | History & Cognitive Science | Member at Large

I have always had thoughts of going into medicine, from my first intention of becoming an orthodontist to now my interest in surgery. The main pull to the health field for me is the ability to make an impact every single day. It could be the smallest thing of just making someone feel more comfortable in a tough medical environment to actually saving a life. I think the body is an amazing thing, and we have not even touched the cusp of what the human brain and body is capable of; as a result, I think medicine is the path to discovering more knowledge on how to unlock the brilliance of our minds and body. I am specifically interested in surgery because it is procedure-based medicine that provides instant resolve for the patient. I changed my path after shadowing an orthopedic surgeon for one day, and now continue to discover differing interests in medicine. I most recently found a passion in neuroscience, after taking one introductory class. I think the biggest tip I have for other students is to get out there and gain experience in all different fields of medicine, whether it be acupuncture, surgery, family care, or even restorative yoga. There are so many different paths to follow, you just need to find the one that inspires you!


Monika Grabowska | Fourth Year | Medicine | Biomedical Engineering | Member at Large

My experiences as a volunteer at the UVA hospital and my involvement in undergraduate research have inspired me to pursue a medical career. As a volunteer, I have been exposed to direct contact with patients in the health system and have gained a unique perspective on how the hospital works, especially "behind-the-scenes.” My research experiences have given me an appreciation for the time and effort it takes to make advances in medicine. Together, these experiences have given me an awareness of the numerous ways in which technology can impact public health, helping both solidify and guide my passion for medicine.


Naini Shiswawala | Fourth Year | Medicine | Neuroscience | Member at Large 

I found interest in the medical field due to my experiences shadowing and volunteering in various clinics and hospitals. However, when I became an UVA medical scribe, I knew for sure this is what I wanted to do with my life and desired the opportunity to help people on a daily basis. Pre-med is not an easy track: classes are tough, the workload is intense and free time is limited.  Working as a scribe allows me to be surrounded by medical students, residents and attending doctors at all times and reminds me why I want to pursue this field which makes the hard work worth it.


Nandan Srinivasa | Fourth Year | Medicine | Neuroscience | Member at Large 

After volunteering and scribing at the hospital, I learned that it's the perfect place for me as I work well in its challenging, fast-paced environment. I love listening to each patient's story to understand the unique circumstances prompting the patient's visit to the Emergency Department. Furthermore, treating a patient involves receiving different perspectives from many specialties, and I love working as a team to determine the best course of treatment for a patient.


Sardana “Sadee” Coyle | Third Year |Pharmacy | Cognitive Science | Pre-Pharmacy Society President 

I am passionate about helping others, motivating teams towards accomplishing their goals, and fostering sustainability within my personal life and the work I perform with others.  This year on the Board, I am serving as the voice for UVA pre-pharmacy students.  I hope to create and foster a sense of community among our current pre-pharmacy students, including non Pre-Pharmacy Society members, and UVA alumni pursuing careers in pharmacy.  For any profession—pharmacy, pre-health, and others—knowing that you can connect with other people who either have been in or are currently in your shoes feels really empowering.  Whether you have the ability to reach out to alumni who can provide their words of wisdom or fellow students who know the ins and outs of how to pass difficult, required courses, you know that here at UVA you have access to wonderful, brilliant people who are willing to help you.  As an introvert, I have had moments where I felt like I was the only person supporting myself and my career goals, especially during my first year.  I recognized my problem and started stepping out of my comfort zone by opening up to my pre-health peers, advisors, and professors.  Utilizing that support network took a great deal of stress off my shoulders, because I found people who could empathize with my problems, provide useful resources and advice, and are willing to work with me on improving my academic performance or resume.  Fostering a community of peers and advisors provides individuals a safe space for them to feel welcome, receive support, and provide support for their fellow community members.


Stephanie Brobbey | Fourth Year | Medicine | Sociology | Daniel Hale Williams

As a little girl, I remember thinking very highly of and being inspired by my pediatrician. In essence she had all the information and solutions to whatever health problem I brought her way and this is what ultimately fueled my drive to be like her. As I continue to grow throughout the years I have come to realize that a passion of mine is learning how to help others as my pediatrician was able to do for me. I am most interested in medicine because I know it will give me the opportunity to continuously learn in the field of science and put my findings to good use by helping others. Tips for Incoming Pre-Med Students: Being a pre-med student is not easy. It’s totally okay to accept that sometimes your path may look different and be unique in comparison to everyone else’s. The most important thing is to never give up on your passion and the future you see for yourself.

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