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MD Program Meet Katherine Valles
Class of 2023

Katharine Valles: Drexel MD Program Class of 2023

Hometown: Hanover, MA
Undergraduate: Boston University Sargent College, BS in Health Sciences
Graduate: Boston University School of Medicine, MS in Medical Sciences; Boston University School of Public Health, MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you came to Drexel?

I grew up in the Boston area and graduated with my BS in Health Sciences from Boston University in 2016. During my time as an undergraduate, I completed an internship in maternal and child health at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and worked as an operations associate in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. I went on to complete my MS/MPH dual-degree from Boston University’s School of Medicine and School of Public Health, where I focused on epidemiology and biostatistics. I completed my Master’s thesis on the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and completed a research year at Boston Medical Center’s department of surgery.

Outside of the classroom, I come from a very active family and, if I could, I would hike every day. My love for hiking has taken me to some amazing destinations in the United States, South America, Europe and Africa. Before starting the first year of medical school, I spent the summer in Canada hiking between Vancouver and Calgary and traveled to Israel as part of the Birthright program.

What drew you to medicine in general, and to the College of Medicine specifically?

What drew me to medicine was the opportunity to combine my love for science, my curiosity and determination to solve problems, and my drive to support others through so many different parts of their lives. I had an interest in health care throughout my earlier school years but felt more drawn to medicine as I gained experience in the fields of medicine and public health. I realized that it was possible to blend my interests as I developed my career. Becoming a physician is an immense privilege, and one that I am still learning about as I move through medical school.

The College of Medicine stood out to me from the beginning as being a welcoming, collaborative and supportive medical school. Part of what helped me to choose the College of Medicine was a sense of belonging and a feeling that even though I would be moving to a new place, I would one day be able to call this medical school and city my home. My experience so far has been nothing short of amazing. The faculty are incredibly caring, and I have made friendships that will last a lifetime.

How did your undergraduate studies, work or continuing education experiences you’ve had prepare you for medical school?

My MS/MPH program was invaluable in my preparation for medical school. Having a slower-paced first pass through biochemistry, physiology, histology and anatomy allowed me to develop an appreciation for the interconnectedness of our body systems and gave me a strong foundation to build on during medical school. My Master’s programs gave me the space to learn how I best study, which made my transition into a faster-paced learning environment smooth.

After completing my Master’s, I worked with the department of surgery at Boston Medical Center as a research assistant, which was a great opportunity to gain research experience and learn about academic medicine while applying to medical school. I am confident that my gap years gave me the space and time for personal and professional development and set me up for success in medical school.

What organizations, extracurriculars, research or community service experiences have you been involved in at the College of Medicine? How have they impacted your experience here?

At Drexel, I serve as a student member on the admissions committee, a co-president of the Women in Surgery student group, a co-president of Maimonides, the social media chair of the College’s American Medical Women’s Association chapter, and an orientation leader for the Class of 2024. There are so many ways to get involved at Drexel. Each of these opportunities have presented new settings in which to meet other students and faculty, enrich my academic experience, and help make a positive difference. I feel more immersed in my education because of my involvement in these groups and I am constantly inspired by all the great work being done at the College of Medicine. In addition to school involvement, I’ve stayed active with research, continued to tutor online epidemiology, and had a lot of fun exploring Philadelphia!

What advice would you give incoming medical students?

My biggest piece of advice for incoming medical students is to stay present-minded in everything you do. When you are studying, focus on studying; when you are taking your much-deserved personal time, focus on decompressing and having fun. My time spent working out, cooking or hanging out with friends was important as I adjusted to medical school; it helped me feel refreshed enough to tackle the next day’s studying.

I would also urge students to utilize their peers as a resource. College of Medicine students are so supportive and always willing to help. Whether that means study groups, having someone to text for help, or a friend to meet with before exams, I encourage incoming medical students to work together as they embark on this amazing journey.

Contact Information

Drexel University College of Medicine
Office of Admissions
60 N. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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