Samantha Rivas ’20 | University of Portland

Samantha Rivas ’20

Third-Year Medical Student at UC San Francisco School of Medicine



“I knew I wanted to go to medical school and that mentorship during my undergrad years would be very important. That’s why I chose UP. I didn’t want to major in biology, which is the typical major for pre-med students. I love math, so I sat down with the head of the math department, and she connected me with a senior math major who was applying to medical school. They gave me great advice on creating a four-year plan for classes and extracurriculars like internships and research.

UP is a great school for research because its smaller size means students have more opportunities. My research professors also doubled as mentors and helped me build my medical school application. They were constantly checking in on me, asking if I wanted to TA for them, and just being a sounding board for aspects of my application. Even now, my faculty mentors frequently reach out to see how I am doing.

I have so many fond memories of UP—being published in a journal, practicing anatomy on a Halloween skeleton decoration in my dorm, having a breakdown over organic chemistry and reorganizing my room at midnight with my roommate, traveling to Spain to do chemistry and archaeology research, even studying in the same exact spot in the library so my friends always knew where to find me.

My general advice is push yourself to succeed in your classes, pursue faculty mentorships and research opportunities, and explore new experiences through community service and volunteering. This is your future, do not rely on anyone else to get you there.”