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Valerie Contreras

Undergraduate student majoring in pre-clinical sciences

Striving & Thriving at VCU talks to Valerie about why she is pursuing a career in medicine, what she is passionate about, and more.

Valerie Contreras: Activities

An interview with Valerie

Valerie Contreras: Text
Fixing a Toycar

Tell us  about yourself.

I’m Hispanic and I'm a first-generation college student. My parents are a big inspiration for me to go to college because they came to this country to see me excel in life. So, I want to give them that privilege to see their daughter be someone they are proud of and give the example to my two younger siblings.

What are you passionate about?

I'm very passionate about helping people. I'm a selfless person when it comes to people asking for help. In terms of the medical field, I would like to help someone who's in danger of losing their life or needs a transplant right away. I want to be the person that helps others.

What is your envisioned career path?

Well, my aspiration is to become a surgeon. I'm still debating  whether to specialize in cardiology or general surgery.  I just think surgery in general is an interesting pathway because you get to help people. Seeing people be a better version of themselves once they come out of surgery is something I look forward to experiencing once I’m a surgeon. I’m also drawn to this career because  it's interesting to learn about the human body and how it works.

What does it mean to be a STEM student?

I think you must be consistent and dedicated to what you want to do. You don't want to go into STEM fields and just do it for the money. You really must enjoy what you're doing, because if you're just doing it for money, you're going to be miserable because there's no passion to what you're doing. I think it's important to do something you like and not just focus on the money.

Valerie Contreras: List
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Valerie Contreras: Image

1) What clubs and organizations are you involved in?

I'm in the Triangle Club and in the Color Guard. 

2) Favorite study spot on campus?

The library but I'm trying to go outside more, though, like on Monroe Park just to see the outdoors more and feel the air.

3) What career path interests you?

I want to become a surgeon.

4) How would you describe living in Richmond?

It's nice. I like the environment, how people just don't care what you wear or what you say or whatever. People are so chill; they accept you for who you are. It's very diverse.

5) Describe yourself in three words.

Very shy, enthusiastic, and selfless. 

6) What's your favorite holiday?


7) Who do you respect and admire the most?

My mother

8) What is the most rewarding aspect about being in the STEM fields?

The feeling of helping someone else.

9) What is something you never thought you would see yourself doing?

This interview

10) What do you do with the first 30 minutes of your day?

I start my daily routine by taking  outdoor walks before going to class.

11) What is your favorite thing to do after an exam?

Go to Starbucks and drink some coffee.

12) What's your favorite ice cream?

Cookies and cream

13) What is your Zodiac sign?


14) What is a place you want to travel to?


15) What is your favorite place in Richmond?

I'm not sure I haven't discovered Richmond enough yet.

16) What is your favorite season?


17) What's your go to coffee shop order? 

If its Starbucks a shaken expresso with sweet cream.

18) What's your favorite dish?


19) What has been your biggest obstacle in this journey so far? 

Getting out of my comfort zone. I'd want to get involved in so many things, but I get so nervous, and my anxiety doesn't let me. But I've been doing better even by doing this interview.

20) If you could major in a non-STEM major, what would it be?

Music because since 8th grade, I've been in band. So that's something I wanted to do before.

21) Who is your favorite professor? 

My math professor Dr. Hilary Cassil. I really like the way she teaches, and she makes us think for ourselves instead of having us wait for her to give us the answers.

22) What is some advice you'd give to minoritized students in STEM or those that are interested in STEM?

If you want to do it, go for it.

23) What has been your least favorite STEM class that you've taken?


24) What is a guilty pleasure?

I don't have one.

25) Cooking or baking?


Valerie Contreras: List
Valerie Contreras: Pro Gallery
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