11 Out Of 10

Long before she came to Dominican as a biology major, Briana Chavez ’19 knew she wanted a career in medicine. She was 10 years old.

“It was predestined by my grandfather,” Briana says, smiling. “He always called me his doctor and thought I should be one.”

That premonition is becoming reality for Briana. This summer she began a job with Scribe America near her hometown of Woodland while contemplating her future. She plans to apply to medical school in 2020, and was recently accepted to the MCAT scholarship program provided by the Post-baccalaureate program at UC Davis. She aims to become either a gynecologist and obstetrician or perhaps a fetal surgeon.

Whatever direction Briana decides to go it will come with the blessing and support of Dominican, the School of Health and Natural Sciences – and her parents. She is the first in her family to attend college and in fact it was her mother who suggested she attend Dominican to fulfill a dream her mom had for herself.

The inspiration for Briana being a first generation student has turned into conversation. She was guest speaker at a program this past spring in the Heritage and History Series on campus. Her presentation of “My First Generation Experience” was recorded and aired by Penguin Radio.

It helped her tell her story.

“I felt guilty when I came to Dominican as a first generation student. I was first in my family to go to college, but it puts more pressure on you because you can’t fail, so you stick with it,” says Briana, who graduated from Woodland High School. “When I came to Dominican I had to be sure it was a school I was going to stick with all four years. I was blessed with opportunities to grow with leadership, friends, and professors. If you have a passion as a first-gen student, go for it. Learning should not be limited. Learning is growth.”

Bolstered by scholarships and a strong financial package, Briana’s Dominican experience included working as a research assistant on campus at the start of her freshman year. In addition, she had four years of undergraduate research under Dr. Diara Spain’s study on the effects of Ocean Acidification on marine crustaceans. She presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) two years in a row in Asheville, N.C. in 2016 and Memphis, Tn. in 2017. Additionally, Briana had an internship with an OBGYN nurse practitioner at Kaiser Permanente, and held leadership positions with Campus Ministry and the Siena Leadership Team. Recently she served as Director of Dominican's Inter-Club Council (ICC).

On a scale of one to 10, Briana’s journey to Dominican exceeded her expectations.

“Coming to Dominican the experience was 11 out of 10,” Briana says. “The thought of me going to college was never talked about at the dinner table. I knew it was going to be expensive and that would be a lot for my parents and I didn’t know where to start or how to talk to them about it, but I am sure glad I started the conversation.”


• Defining moment at Dominican/or memory that will stay with you forever: Text-message from Dr. Spain saying I had been chosen to be in her research group. Being in her lab has brought me a second family, and has put me in the track in being a well-rounded researcher.
• Most inspiring professor: Dr. Diara Spain
• Best place to study on campus: Chilly’s Cafe. It’s a great place for group or individual studying and it’s casual, lively, and there are these big open windows that let the sun stream in.
• Best place to eat off campus: The Chicken Pad-Thai at Thai Smile on Fourth Street.
• Best place to hang out in Marin: Sausalito has beautiful scenery of the ocean and overlooks San Francisco. There is a park area right at the foot of the pier, where anyone can just sit and study or have a picnic. Walking downtown is a great experience, due to its extravagant restaurants, hotels, and unique shops.
• Favorite way to spend a weekend in or near Marin: There are trails to hike behind the residence halls that give you magnificent views of San Rafael, the Richmond Bridge, and even Mt. Tam.
• Advice to a new student: This is a small campus, so get to know your professors and go to class, because they will notice. Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and get involved in student-led clubs, student government, or campus ministry. Talk to new people and build connections, because we’re all in a network. Everyone must go to Double Rainbow for ice cream on Fourth Street. Last, make your time at Dominican the best four years of your life.

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