Student Spotlight: Valentina Prieto
Welcome! My name is Valentina Prieto, and I am a junior in the Bachelors of Health Science on the General Health Science track. Once I graduate, I hope to continue my education to obtain a Masters of Science Physician Assistant. Ultimately my career goal is to become a physician assistant specializing in trauma surgery.
In the Fall semester of 2016, I achieved my dream of transferring to the University of Florida and without a doubt it has been the best decision. With the small amount of time I have spent at UF I have grown not to be afraid of change but instead face the challenges and learn from my mistakes. Most importantly I discovered my true interest and what I want to pursue as my future career. In the beginning of my fall semester I was pursuing a Bachelors of Health Science degree with a concentration in Pre-Occupational Therapy. Although I love the perspective and meaning of becoming an occupational therapist, little by little I’ve come to realize that it is not what I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Nonetheless, medicine is and will always be a big part of me. Thus, I began to research for alternative routes and professions that would still represent a substantial part of patient care – and I came upon the Physician Assistant profession.
After attending my first Pre-Physician Assistant Association meeting and listening to the guest speaker a physician assistant who specialized in general surgery speak about their love for the profession and what their day consisted of, I knew I had hit the jackpot. After attending the meeting, I began to look for an opportunity to shadow a PA to reassure myself this was the career for me. Fortunately, during spring break I was given the opportunity and privileged to shadow a physician assistant who specialized in pediatric surgery. It was in fact the greatest and most exhilarating day, I witnessed fascinating surgeries and procedures done by the physician assistant.
At the end of the day, I felt with certainty what career I was going to pursue. My excitement in becoming a physician assistant continues to grow extensively as I research more and more what it is all about! Every meeting, every event, and every guest speaker has made such an impact, and has slowly opened my eyes to the many opportunities that await for me. Although I may be new to the challenge of working towards my pre-requisites, shadowing hours, and patient contact hours, I am positive it is going to be a journey I will enjoy and I am eager to begin.
As a daughter of two Colombian immigrants, who have sacrificed everything so my sisters and I can have the future and education they always dreamed of us having has always been my drive to keep me going. It has taught me many lessons to never give up, be determined, and overcome all obstacles that come up. Thanks to the outstanding love, guidance, and support from my family I have been able to dream and achieve my goals. As I begin and continue this journey they will be next to me every step of the way as my supporters until I reach the finish line.
During my own time, you can catch me hiking trials in Gainesville, Miami or even the Smokey Mountains, spending time with friends and family, soaking in some vitamin D at the beach or springs, exploring Gainesville and going to all athletic games! As always, GO GATORS!