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Alumni Spotlight

Silvia Plascencia

Silvia Plascencia

Silvia Plascencia is currently a fourth-year medical student (M4) at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. Silvia grew up on farmland in Arizona and chose UP for the opportunity to learn in a smaller, more intimate community. Silvia graduated from UP in 2015 with a degree in biology and minors in neuroscience, chemistry, and French.

While at UP, Silvia had the opportunity to do a summer program at Loyola and found it would help her become the physician she wished to become. She originally believed she would pursue neurology or internal medicine but came to realize her passion for service best fit a career in family medicine. She is now in the middle of interviewing for residency programs in Chicago and along the west coast. Congrats on wrapping up medical school and we wish you good luck on your residency match!

1. What is the best part of your current job/position?
My time in Chicago, through this journey we call medical school, has been quite a ride—a tough, challenging, emotional roller coaster, but very rewarding all the same. It is amazing to see how much I have developed as a future physician in a couple short years, while still being able to shape and mold the values I intend to uphold as I come closer to graduation. It is an honor to serve my community as a medical student. Working in urban underserved clinics and hospitals for the last 2 years of clinical rotations has been incredible. I am very fortunate to be where I am today, and feel grateful for the family, friends, and mentors who have encouraged me along the way.

2. How did your time at UP help you with your career path? (involvement, academics, research, advising, etc.)
Throughout my four years at UP, I became involved in both healthcare and non-healthcare related activities which all helped significantly as I transitioned to medical school. Specifically, I became close with a handful of incredible professors at UP who supported my pursuable of a variety of activities including volunteering in homeless shelters, mentoring local high school students, serving as a volunteer at Legacy Emanuel, becoming an RA, and starting research in biochemistry.

These service opportunities helped strengthen both my interest in medicine and in caring for underserved communities in general. I was involved with a small group of pre-health students as well, which I'm sure has grown significantly. Additionally, the variety of classes I took during my time at UP really helped shape who I became as I started medical school; the education we receive there is varied and tailored to helping us become critical thinkers—you are lucky to be at UP! Some of the best courses I took included creative writing, philosophy of the mind, sensation and perception, wetlands ecology, and evolution.

3. What are your favorite memories of UP / any highlights?
My favorite memories include serving as an RA in Mehling Hall, EspressoUP nights at St. Mary's lounge on Wednesday nights (sometimes they had great music), various activities with Pilots after Dark, seeing Young the Giant and Macklemore live on The Bluff, and just exploring Portland and the PNW in general! I had a great time spending weekends exploring the Portland food/coffee scene, going for hikes, and spending time outdoors.

4. What advice would you give aspiring pre-health types?
Do what you love and take the time to volunteer both on campus and in off-campus activities; they do not all have to be related to healthcare to start medical school! Programs want to know you are a genuine individual with interests outside of medicine and it is becoming more common for students to take 1-3 years off prior to applying. Do not be afraid to take this time off to focus on your interests, find a good clinic or hospital to work in for some time to reassure your interest in medicine, and do well on the MCAT.

It was tough for me to apply during my junior year while balancing a heavy schedule, being an RA, and studying for the MCAT. Medical school takes a special amount of passion, desire, maturation, and commitment to service while learning to sacrifice a bit of time in yourself and your relationships, so it is very important to have a strong support system of family and friends. This is not a career for money, it is not a career for prestige, and you will spend an additional 3-7 years in residency training after medical school, so please explore your interests before committing to an expensive and strenuous career path! That being said, it is the most life-changing, rewarding passion I have pursued and hope to continue inspiring others looking to begin a career in medicine.