There is a pathway to paydays for all job seekers. That road is longer for some like Ariel Thorson, who is a fourth-year medical student and second-year Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt University.
Thorson, 25, started her steadfast devotion to the medical profession in 2015 when she enrolled in Biomedical Sciences at Canadian Valley Technology Center. She said she was initially attracted by the advanced coursework.
“I also wanted to get exposure to careers in medicine and science,” she said. “I believe I was taught by the best teachers in the state while there. On top of that, I was exposed to several career paths in STEM (short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). These experiences set me on the path to medicine.”
One-third of 1 percent of Americans earn a medical degree, according to information supplied by the American Medical Association. Of those, 3 percent become M.D.-Ph.D. graduates, according to a report from the National Institute of Health. Thorson expects to be among both groups next spring.
CV Tech’s Biomedical Sciences program offers college-prep curriculum, which includes courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) Biology, AP Statistics and AP Chemistry. Class topics include anatomy, cell biology, genetics and disease research. Students also view a live video autopsy and interact with the medical examiner.
Biomedical Sciences provides a head start on advanced medical studies. The program is among nearly three dozen career education options for high school students and adults at CV Tech.
Thorson said her CV Tech instructors played a vital role in her academic development.
“I never had a group of people believe in me more than my instructors at CV Tech, and that went a long way to helping me achieve all that I could,” she said. “I think if you’re interested in STEM, Biomedical Sciences is a great choice to discover careers in science and medicine and to position yourself to thrive in your pre-med or pre-Ph.D. coursework.”
Thorson excelled at both CV Tech and at Bethany High School. After scoring a 35 on the ACT college entrance exam, scholarships offers increased. Vanderbilt was among those offering her a full-tuition waiver.
Thorson majored in Biomedical Engineering and graduated cum laude. She developed an increasingly greater interest in the study of diabetes that was birthed during a topical discussion in Biomedical Sciences at CV Tech
“That started my interest in diabetes research,” Thorson said. “It was for that reason that I joined a diabetes research lab my first year of college.”
She was in the lab all four years of undergraduate studies. On weekends, she teaches a class on diabetes drug design and development to high school students. After graduation, she plans to pursue a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in endocrinology, which is the study of, among other disorders, diabetes.
Her planned dissertation, however, is an examination of the role estrogen plays in mediating atherosclerotic dyslipidemia. She hopes to understand mechanisms that extend life for post-menopausal women. She points to studies suggesting ladies in this group have increased risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly due to lower estrogen.
Future plans include pursuit of a required residency in internal medicine and perhaps a fellowship in endocrinology.
Thorson offers advice for students who might considering following her footsteps that is based largely on advice from her late father, Ron.
“Don’t give up on your dreams,” she said. “Keep doing your best. Try to take advanced coursework, get involved in research and put yourself into projects and extracurriculars that excite and inspire you. Don’t let fear stop you from trying. You are capable of more than you think.”
Biomedical Sciences is offered at CV Tech’s Cowan Campus, which is exclusively for health education. For a full list of options, visit cvtech.edu.