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Story in the College of Arts & Sciences

Viloria photo

Joyce Viloria '03

Biology major
At a glance:

Evaluating DNA enzymes as an undergraduate research student drives alumna to success in graduate school.

Now earning her M.D. at UCSF's School of Medicine, Joyce Viloria knew as a high school student that she wanted to become a doctor. It was her interest in how scientists know what they know that propelled her into research at Santa Clara University.

"I was taking a lower-division physiology course and was learning about how mammals maintain their body temperatures. I was intrigued by the mechanics of it, but more interested in how scientists actually discovered this information," she says.

She worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Biology Professor Ángel Islas, evaluating DNA enzymes to understand how cells stay healthy. "This influenced the kind of physician I aspire to be: One who keeps an open mind about future advances in biomedical research," Viloria says.

Viloria arrived at UCSF ready to tackle its challenges: "I can say with the utmost confidence that Santa Clara more than prepared me for the rigors of a top-rated medical school like UCSF. The focus on student learning at SCU is superb."

Viloria plans to specialize in internal medicine, and wants to help underrepresented patient populations. Her own experience has influenced this choice.

"People may not realize it by the way I speak or where I am today, but I am an immigrant to this country," she says. "To have had the opportunity to attend Santa Clara and have the educational experiences I had there makes me one very fortunate person."


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