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Getting There:
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Student Insights

Student Organizations

During my first months at Drew University, I noticed the differences in healthcare and education firsthand. I quickly became aware that the education that I received in high school was nowhere near that received by my undergraduate classmates. However, I saw an opportunity to immerse myself in different cultures by getting involved with the community and science clubs. While shadowing physicians at Morristown Medical Center, an affluent town in New Jersey, I witnessed them making stronger connections with and giving better care to their patients than the physicians in my hometown. These doctors would take time to talk to patients and consider their requests, whereas at the clinic in El Monte, California my mom and I would have to wait over two hours to see her doctor for a mere ten minutes. I recall sitting in a waiting room and asking my mother, “Do you know why you’re taking those pills?” She replied, “No, but I think they’re for my high blood pressure.” When the doctor entered the room, he asked my mother how she was doing, performed a minimal physical exam, then gave her a refill to her prescription, and walked out. In underserved communities like mine, the scarcity of education makes it too easy for some physicians to bypass informative conversations with patients about their care. It seemed as if my family and others in our community had no voice in consideration of the type of treatments we received.

Seeing the deficit in the quality of healthcare in the communities I call home has inspired me to advocate on their behalf for better health practices and policies that promote health literacy. Earning a doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine will place me in a better position to consider my future patients psychological, sociological, and biological needs. I chose ATSU-KCOM because they possess the determination in promoting lifelong learning and medical care directed to underserved communities in need which is what best aligns with my core values. I believe an education at ATSU can provide me with the tools necessary to deliver culturally competent care and empower the vulnerable to take charge of their health. The mentorship and guidance I have received at KCOM will enable me to view my patient’s capabilities beyond their current circumstances and care for the person as a whole. By considering one’s entire life story and using a global treatment approach, I plan to apply my medical training to enrich the lives of people in underserved communities and help them attain the education, health, and prosperity that they all deserve.

Andrew Torres

Osteopathic medical student

I was 18 years old when my life changed and had the opportunity to pursue my education in the United States. Initially, it was challenging to start in a new country and begin high school without knowing the English language. I had to start from scratch, but I did not give up or lose faith. I had tremendous support during my journey in ATSU. It was important for me to find a school that would allow me to succeed in my career and help me reach my dream.

I love that AT Still University values diversity, inclusion, and people with different backgrounds. When exploring ATSU, immediately, I felt home, welcomed, and supported. As a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, I have a dream to open a non-profit clinic to provide services to the underserved population. I would like to share my knowledge, connect with the Spanish-speaking population, people with different backgrounds, and remove barriers. I feel passionate to serve, change lives, make a difference, and provide new opportunities to those who need it the most. 

Yanet Ybarra

Occupational therapy student

I chose ATSU for a whole myriad of reasons but if I had to pinpoint one reason, it would be for it’s unique and innovative “one plus three curriculum” approach to medicine. Words of wisdom have been passed from senior physicians in my community that “you don’t learn medicine from a textbook” and that experience, seeing first hand, being proactive, and learning from your mistakes are the best skill sets to acquire to becoming a great physician for your patients. Also, did I mention, the faculty and staff at ATSU make you feel at home, away from home? Medical school is a long and difficult journey, but it’s definitely reassuring and gives you a sense of confidence knowing that you have a handful of talented colleagues and extremely supportive, loving faculty by your side, who all believe in and have the same vision.

James Lee

Osteopathic medical student

In the summers of my childhood, my family and I would visit my paternal grandparents. I remember watching my grandmother take care of my grandfather. He had had multiple strokes, a heart attack, and a host of other medical problems. She was a nurse in Jamaica before she, my grandfather, aunt, and father immigrated to the U.S. and became his caregiver; I saw how much she loved him in the way she took care of him. I decided that I wanted to take care of people the way she took care of him. She was my introduction to healthcare and the catalyst for my career path.

I chose to pursue osteopathic medicine specifically because of the 4 osteopathic tenets that drive our philosophical approach to our patients and for the extra tool that is osteopathic manipulative medicine. I chose ATSU-SOMA for multiple reasons, but above all else, it was ATSU’s dedication to their mission to serve the underserved and the unique curriculum that would allow me to start doing that in my 2nd year of medical school. Many people may say they care about serving the underserved, but I have seen ATSU-SOMA as an institution practice what they preach by putting us in contact with some of the most vulnerable populations of patients. My community health center site has allowed me to take care of prison inmates, the uninsured, the undocumented, those who don’t speak English, the homeless, and everything in between. These clinical experiences have been the epitome and embodiment of the dreams I had when I first saw my grandmother take care of my grandfather.

Kayla Mowatt

Osteopathic medical student

The day I had my braces removed was the day I decided I wanted to pursue a career in dentistry. After having severe crowding for years, I was overjoyed by how beautiful my smile looked and how confident I felt smiling and laughing. I enjoyed my overall orthodontic experience and hoped to one day provide joyous dental experiences for others. The field of dentistry will allow me to help others physically, mentally, and socially by improving aesthetics, removing decay, and easing discomfort. Oral health truly impacts an individual’s life.

ATSU’s commitment to serving underserved populations is what originally attracted me to the University. The dual DMD and MPH degree, community health clinic external rotations, commitment to the underserved, and my warm and inviting interview experience at ATSU-ASDOH is truly what completed my decision.

Kia Moore

Dual degree program - doctor of dental medicine and masters of public health- dental emphasis student

As an ethnic minority member, I fled Iraq in 1990 in search of a better life. The present political situation in the Middle East forces me to consider those currently enduring what I was lucky enough to avoid. Consequently, I work tirelessly towards my education and career goals for myself and for those who are forced to pause their progress because of life’s unexpected adversities. I chose to pursue public health education because I look forward to giving back to a society that has accepted, supported, and developed me into the woman I am today.

My sister was a member of ATSU’s inaugural SOMA class and spoke highly of the university to me throughout her time as a DO student. I was compelled enough to apply to the MPH program, and before I knew it, my sister and I were both graduating with our respective degrees from ATSU in 2011. My experiences with ATSU during my two years as an MPH student were challenging and helped me realize my passion for public health. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and knew that pursuing a doctorate was in my future. I chose ATSU for a second time because I found that the school fulfilled its mission statement and the health education curriculum aligned with my future aspirations.

Linda Yonan

Doctor of health education student

ATSU’s whole person approach to healthcare and their focus on interprofessional education, diversity and underserved populations attracted me from the beginning. ATSU’s mission and vision is everything I wanted when choosing a graduate school, it was a perfect fit!

Upon graduation, I hope to work in an underserved Spanish speaking community where I can help bridge the gap in miscommunication and quality hearing care. Also, hopefully continue to be involved in humanitarian audiology work and serve those out of the country. There is no better feeling in the world than to be able to help others.

Natalie Loyola

Doctor of audiology student

I was five years old when I first decided I want to be a doctor, due primarily to the Fisher Price medical kits. I haven’t looked back since. I’ve always desired to work as part of a team, improving the lives of others. I’ve always been active in team sports. Medicine is a field that allows one to work with different individuals, as a team, to accomplish a common goal: work with the patient to improve/maintain a healthy lifestyle. When I went to college on an athletic scholarship, some people believed I would end up changing my mind from being a pre-med/biology major. Others thought my passion for the game would translate to me pursuing a career in coaching. Alas, I stayed focused on my dream of becoming a physician. The skills I attained as a point guard, i.e. the coach on the floor, amazingly are transferrable to the medical field. Physicians are more coaches and teachers for the patient; the goal is to educate the patient on obtaining and retaining health. Regarding the DO program, I applied to ATSU-SOMA because I agree with the osteopathic philosophy; the patient should be treated as a unit comprised of body, mind, and spirit and that all components need to be considered when treating the patient, not just the disease. Medicine is a fascinating field of lifelong learning and commitment. This drew me towards a career in health care.

I chose ATSU for three main reasons: the emphasis on providing care to underserved populations, the 1+3 model – allowing for 3 years of clinical experience, and the school’s priority of producing great doctors. After one year on the Arizona campus, I am more grateful for the opportunity to learn at this institution. The opportunity for interprofessional exercises, during which students from the various ATSU programs work together to learn concepts being taught in their respective disciplines. The interprofessional education component prepares the student to work with professionals from various disciplines. Another aspect I enjoy is the family atmosphere. Family is an integral component of society and ATSU provides that atmosphere, from faculty to staff to students, where everyone is looking out for one another. Now that I have lived experiences in the ATSU community, there are five reasons I would apply: commitment to the underserved, 1+3 model, priority to produce great physicians, interprofessional opportunities, and family atmosphere.

Renée J. Crawford

Osteopathic medical student

I grew up in a rural town that is federally classified as a healthcare desert. I watched family members forfeit their health due to their inability to pay for healthcare services. I saw grandparents cut pills in half, and heard practically all the adults in my family voice their concerns about being able to pay for the healthcare needs of their children. I chose to pursue a career in healthcare to combat socioeconomic, racial, and other demography-based disparities in healthcare.

I chose ATSU because, as the founding school of the Osteopathic philosophy, ATSU has a rich history of embodying the concept of whole-person healthcare, with the mission to serve all in need. Founder Andrew Taylor Still, DO, himself strove to be inclusive and equitable in his efforts to treat and educate others, and so naturally, ATSU seemed like the best place for me to gain valuable experiences in addressing health disparities.

My goal is to work in the field of public health, where I will specialize in healthcare policy. With this training, I intend to help evaluate and develop legislation that promotes equity and inclusiveness in healthcare access.

Thomas Jackson

Biomedical sciences student

Health is the most valuable right that humans have, and I think that we need to work towards ensuring that health care in the United States functions as a human right to all people, and not simply a privilege for those who can afford it. Additionally, I think health manifests in many different aspects of life including physical, social, and emotional wellbeing. Thus, care should be provided in a personalized fashion that caters to the needs of the individual.

My perspective on health care and the need for serving the underserved aligns with the mission of ATSU SOMA, and is the primary reason I chose this institution for my medical education. The innovative curriculum, clinically oriented training, and emphasis on supporting and serving the community will not only prepare me to be a good physician, but also help me contribute to improving the health care system for everyone.

Herchran Singh

Osteopathic medical student

Growing up in a family of Nigerian immigrants, I was always taught to work hard and continue dedicate yourself to the passions you have until you ultimately achieve your goal. Although I did not grow up in the greatest of neighborhoods, I believe that I am a product of the upbringing of my parents, my church and friends who have helped me become the person I am today. I grew up surrounded by gang violence, poverty, prostitution and drug abuse. Many of my friends were in gangs, but I was fortunate to relocate to a better neighborhood and pursue my education.

Although I worked as a teacher prior to medical school, I believe that teaching fueled my passion for medicine. I taught high school math and science and always found myself volunteering in the high school jumpstart medical programs or in my church as a pianist to give back to the community and serve the underserved. While volunteering in these avenues, I decided to pursue a public health degree to supplement my education and fuel my passion of volunteering and teaching. Little did I know that this will be an avenue for me to pursue not only public health, but medicine as a whole, osteopathic medicine.

Osteopathic medicine is centered on us teaching our patients and giving them a perspective that incorporates not just their body, but their mind and spirit. ATSU’s mission on diversity, serving the underserved and treating each patient through a holistic approach was one of the reasons I desired to pursue my medical education here. Osteopathic medicine proves that it is not enough to just treat a symptom or a disease, but to treat the patient. Here at ATSU-KCOM, I am able to receive the medical knowledge and combine it with my public health background to one day serve as a physician that can treat not only the patient, but the community from a holistic approach.

Michael Megafu

Osteopathic medical student

After my interview at ATSU, I knew that this place was the perfect fit for me. The interview period is not only for the school to interview the student, but also for the student to interview the school. What I really appreciated from my experience was that the faculty were devoted to their students. I felt welcomed from the faculty to the point that I could picture myself at ATSU. Medical school is a rough road for everyone and I wanted to be somewhere where I knew I had people to rely on. To this day, as a third year osteopathic medical student, I reach out to several of my professors in Arizona while I’m in Chicago, Illinois. I know that even after I graduate, I’ve made life long connections here at ATSU. Through my experience, the faculty at ATSU are here for the students and try to support us in every way possible while placing our education as a top priority.

Rupashree Mandala

Student of osteopathic medicine

Having lived in the small rural towns of Iran to living in various cities in Southern California, I have seen the great disparities in access to healthcare. I have always wanted to pursue a career in dentistry and using it to expand care to areas in greatest need, therefore, being able to attend an institution with the same values was my top priority when choosing a dental school. It’s difficult to understand a school from just a website alone but when I arrived, I saw that dedication that ATSU had to its students and emphasizing community health as essential. After seeing that I knew that this was where I would want to attend school as well as grow into the professional I hope to one day be. We are consistently reminded of the whole-person healthcare that ASDOH prides itself on promoting and as dentists we are trained to treat the person and not just their oral cavity. It is truly exciting to attend this school and learn from the passionate educators that don’t simply teach the material, but also educate on how to be a better practitioner in the future. I plan to learn all that I can through my DMD and MPH degree and I am confident that ATSU will properly prepare me for my future.

Shervin Shahsavari

Osteopathic doctor of dental medicine student

As the eldest daughter to poor Vietnamese boat refugees, I became the first in my family to become fluent in English, graduate college and now the first to attend medical school. Growing up in a low-income immigrant community of East Los Angeles, I witnessed and experienced health and educational inequities. My resilient community has deeply shaped my aspirations to become a strong community physician leader committed to social justice and advocacy.

ATSU-SOMA’s emphasis on serving the community by partnering with federally qualified community health centers as part of our curriculum aligned perfectly with what I wanted in my medical education. It is without a doubt that ATSU-SOMA will help me achieve my personal and career goals.

Linda Chang

Student of osteopathic medicine

“Do what makes you happy.” This is a quote from my dear sweet grandmother who fought hard through many difficult times. During the hardest time of her life, she saved every paycheck for years to be able to adopt a child. My mother was the product of a woman’s determination to “do what makes you happy.”

This statement has made a large impact on my life. I have found the most joy in my life in two things; my family and in serving the underserved. It was on one of the first mission trips I attended in a small border town in Mexico that I found what makes me happy, medicine. A few months later, I learned about Osteopathy and realized that it was who I wanted to embody as a future medical physician.

ATSU’s commitment to serving the underserved, the osteopathic theory of whole-person healthcare encompass the reasons I chose ATSU-KCOM as the school for my medical education. I am determined to make a difference in the lives of those who are constantly plagued by inherent skepticism in the medical system. A.T. Still, the Father of Osteopathy, was committed to making a change and that is why I am here to make changes in providing healthcare to many who are still trying to find the “ways to make themselves happy”.

Ren Bryant

Osteopathic medical student

At nine years old, I got my first glimpse into the inequities that exist in dental care. During recess at school, I fell face first onto asphalt and nearly knocked out my two front teeth. Because my mom and I were living on almost nothing, an accident that required emergency dental care was not a luxury that we could afford. After many dismissals from various dentists, I landed in the hands of an orthodontist willing to work with us. While most children learn to fear the dentist, my orthodontist’s office felt like a safe haven. This level of comfort that he gave me truly illustrated the healing power of displaying kindness to someone in a vulnerable state. Ten years and multiple treatments later, I walked away not only with a new smile, but also a desire to offer that same level of comfort as a dentist.

ATSU’s commitment to underserved communities, cultural competency, and whole body healthcare, are just a few reasons why I chose it. Just one example of its commitment is how ASDOH holds the biggest Give Kids a Smile event in the nation, providing free care and a fun carnival for local children. In my short time at ATSU, I can already feel myself becoming the type of dentist that I imagined that I would be. Becoming a dentist epitomizes the means through which I can help others all over the world receive the care in which they deserve.

Trisha In

Doctor of dental medicine student

Translating for Spanish-speaking patients at my local community health center afforded me the opportunity to serve Chicago’s diverse patient population. With several non-English-speaking patients, I noticed their nervous expressions as they attempted to respond to the English-speaking staff caring for them. Oftentimes, I could see looks of confusion after the medical provider gave their recommendations for their care. As a translator, I recognized these behaviors stemmed from a language barrier and witnessed how quality of patient care improved when patients either spoke their native language or felt heard. Given these observations, I knew that I could make a difference in my community by practicing medicine in a bilingual capacity and offering a listening ear to patients who illustrate language barriers.

For this reason, witnessing the impact my cultural background can have on comprehensive care influenced my desire to become a physician and care for underserved communities. I chose ATSU-SOMA because its mission to serve the underserved aligns with my own desire to care for medically underserved communities. Additionally, as an aspiring primary care physician, ATSU-SOMA's faculty and resources provide the ideal environment to achieve that goal.

Brian Salcedo


For the majority of my childhood, I lived with my grandma who was diagnosed with diabetes. So, I vividly remember her taking medications, watching her diet, and visiting her provider. These memories play a major role in my passion for healthcare and medicine. I saw the effect that patient-care and medicine had on my grandma’s health which positively influenced me. In addition, my own past history of drug addiction driven by depression also plays a role in my ambitions today. I have seen what happens to people of all ages when medications are mishandled, and they become addicted. With that being said, I believe I have the unique first-hand experience of seeing the benefits and detriments that medicine holds.

Today, I am 8 years sober and give credit to many reasons but all are applicable to my decision to becoming a Physician Assistant at ATSU. The reason I chose the PA profession was due to its versatility, balance of work and life, and team-oriented care. The reason I chose ATSU is for the different approach to medicine of whole-person care by addressing body, mind, and spirit. These traits and approaches are integrated in the DNA of both profession and school, respectively, but are also the reason I can claim to be sober today. That is why I’m grateful for my decision in enrolling at the Physician Assistant program at A.T. Still University.

Andrew Barrios

ASHS - Physician Assistant Program

As an undergraduate student, I took a society and population health class where I learned about interprofessional healthcare teams, community health, and healthcare for underserved populations. I knew these were topics I wanted to explore further in my educational journey and career. This was my initial introduction into some of the tenets that A.T. Still uniquely represents, so when I found this school, it immediately felt like the best move for me. As someone that grew up in a rural area in Mississippi, I witnessed the need for better healthcare opportunities, and as a student, I learned of the healthcare needs and disparities of people in underserved and diverse communities. However, I had little to no experience working with diverse populations and cultures outside of what I saw in my small hometown. It was very important to me to learn from and to work with diverse and underserved populations, and A.T. Still provides me with that opportunity. Furthermore, the audiology program also allows me to take part in a variety of clinical experiences starting in my first year. The variety of clinical experiences, sincere and friendly faculty and students, the opportunity to work with diverse and underserved populations, and the core principles of A.T Still made this the perfect fit for me, and I look forward to where this will take me in the future.

Starr Jackson

ASHS - Audiology

A.T. Still University offers a variety of involvement opportunities for our students to connect with smaller social groups. A list of diverse student groups are provided below. Students may also develop new student groups as the need arises for campus diversity and inclusivity. Please visit for the most accurate list of RSO's. Questions about existing groups or how to start a new group can email Student Life at

View the Student Organizations (RSO's) Guide here.

View the Student Organizations (RSO's) Guide here.