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KYRA ORTEGA-SCHWARTZ

Year: Sophomore

Major: Human Physiology and Chemistry

Dream Job: A doctor, I speak Spanish so working as a doctor in another country. I’d like to really get to know the community and the needs that they have,

How/why do you want to change the world? Ideally, somehow figure out how to adjust the fundamental causes that lead to disparities in health, specifically in underrepresented populations – people who statistically have poor health due to lower incomes. I’d like to address those fundamental causes, helping address those in developing countries as well.

What has been the best part of your college experience? From a student perspective, I think the research I have been able to do has been really incredible. I work in one of the human physiology labs, and right now Iím working on a study funded by NASA, studying vision Impairment Pressure Disorder. It affects astronaut and weíre doing a really small part of the larger study. It’s interesting to hear how the planning works for these large studies weíre always hearing about works.

What are you proud to have been involved with at UO? I’m a peer advisor at the CMAE, along with being a peer advocate in the duck nest wellness center. Itís been really fun stepping into both roles, and bringing them together. We’re planning a big wellness night for DES students. College populations are pretty healthy, but mental health is a big barrier and in some cultures it’s more taboo where you can have an open discussion. I’m pretty proud to be involved. Iím also proud to be a facilitator with Get Explicit, and Iím actually really afraid of public speaking, so it’s proud of myself to be able to give a 90 minute speech about something that makes people pretty uncomfortable.

What are some of your goals after college? Ideally, I’d like to be accepted to a medical school, and getting my masters in public health so when I graduate I can finish with my MD and PH. Iíd like to practice abroad and work in a rural or inner city setting.

Who’s your biggest role model/influencer? My parents! My mom is from Mexico originally and moved to the states when she married my dad, making that sacrifice to give her kids a better life in a place where her culture isn’t appreciated. My dad is actually a doctor, so I grew up sitting at dinner hearing about his day at the hospital. Thatís probably how I initially realized I was interested in medicine.

Which fictional character is most like yourself? Hermione, she’s really intelligent and is always outwitting people who underestimate her. As a woman of color in science people are constantly underestimating what Iím able to do, or surprised like, “Oh my gosh she’s actually smart?”

What is one fun fact about you? I’m gonna be abroad this summer, Iím going to Ghana and today I got all of my vaccines.