Student Profile - Vivian Caloobanan

Pre-med/biology major finds niche helping others

For Vivian Caloobanan, studying pre-med and biology marries her two passions - science and helping others.

“Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by biological science,” Caloobanan said. “I remember when I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time in the library, researching about complete flowers, flowers that contain all the four floral parts. One day, I was walking home and I saw that my neighbor had hibiscus in their garden and I took the neighbor’s flower to dissect it and examine all the different parts.”

Vivian CaloobananThe junior’s desire to pursue the medical field was confirmed in high school with her involvement in her Lumberton Health Sciences and Technology (HST) class.

“With HST, I was able to do clinicals in the hospital,” Caloobanan said. “I was able to shadow different positions which helped me decide if my passion translated to the real world. Ultimately, seeing for myself what doctors really did for a living solidified my desire to become a doctor.”

After graduating from Lamar in the spring of 2015, Caloobanan plans to attend medical school.

“I plan to delve into internal medicine or become a surgeon or become a family practice physician,” Caloobanan said. “The wonderful part of the medical field is that there are so many possibilities. I can teach or even become a medical illustrator. Also, medicine is a stable field. There will always be sick people who need healed.”

Now serving as vice president of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Caloobanan first became interested after seeing fliers advertising the organization around campus.

“My involvement with AMSA has really reaffirmed my desire to pursue medicine,” Caloobanan said. “Through the organization, I have learned a lot about becoming a doctor and the specific processes involved.” 

Caloobanan said through her involvement in AMSA, she has visited medical schools and attended conferences where she has gained exciting and motivational experiences that push her to pursue medicine.

“The goals at the conferences are to provide information and knowledge to make you an improved physician in the future,” Caloobanan said. “Doctors at the conferences discuss patient-doctor interactions which are interesting, and it also prepares me for potential situations. At the National AMSA Convention in Washington, D.C., I got to practice suturing, lobby for health care, and meet politicians. While at these conferences, you learn basic medical skills, but you also get to meet other pre-meds and form a network.”

            In her time at Lamar, Caloobanan has become involved with many student organizations such as the Filipino Student Association, Alpha Lambda Delta – Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, Honors Student Association, Lamar Ambassadors, Beta Beta Beta (National Biology Honor Society-Secretary), and has participated on the Multicultural Student Advisory Council.

            “My participation in the student organizations at Lamar has helped me gain perspective of LU and its connection to the community,” Caloobanan said. “You get to meet people with similar ambitions and form long-lasting relationships, while being involved in the community and the university. Overall, participating in organizations helps me get more out of my college experience.”

            As a Lamar Ambassador, Caloobanan said she has gained perspective and experience which she feels will help her become more successful in the future.

            “I applied to be a Lamar Ambassador because I wanted to achieve more and I knew that by joining the Ambassadors, it was a first step to becoming a leader,” Caloobanan said. “As an Ambassador, I get to represent the student body in front of donors and alumni, giving my perspective of student life to them.”

Caloobanan is involved on campus as a supplemental instructor for the LU Student Advising and Retention Services (STARS) working with biology classes. She said she has learned important communication skills while gaining the satisfaction of helping others.

Caloobanan also works on campus as a wingman mentor, part of the STARS program, for the pre-professional and science-related learning communities. Learning communities are groups of approximately 20 freshmen students who take two or more courses together. As a wingman mentor, Caloobanan helps freshmen navigate the transition from high school to college, by encouraging and advising students for academic success, and assisting them in broadening their contacts on campus and in the community.

            “I love helping freshman adjust to college life,” Caloobanan said. “I remember how it felt to be a freshman. It’s scary and so different from high school. Personally, I wasn’t really prepared for college life. Now, I get to take my experiences and help other freshmen who may feel the same way.”

She also served as a peer advisor working with incoming students and their parents, which she credits for helping her learn how to deal with conflict resolution and the importance of patience.

Caloobanan has enjoyed working at Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth, where her job is to walk around the hospital and fill the medicine machines as well as create IV bags.

“With this job, I got to see the different sides of medicine, how doctors interact with patients, how doctors and nurses interact; the ecosystem of the hospital,” Caloobanan said. “It widened my perspective of the medical field. I gained hospital experience and learned that the medical field requires teamwork.”

Caloobanan said she is grateful for the financial assistance from scholarships such as the Charles and Susan Gordon and Julia Gordon Gray Memorial Scholarship, and the Barnes & Noble Bookstore Scholarship.

“I was born in the Philippines, a third-world country, and was taught the importance of being frugal,” Caloobanan said. “These scholarships help alleviate costs and allow me to concentrate on furthering my education.”

Attending Lamar has provided Caloobanan a direction for the future while allowing her to help others succeed in and out of the classroom.

“I have discovered that Lamar has so much to offer if you take advantage of its opportunities,” Caloobanan said. “Not only are there so many services and possibilities for students, but the faculty truly want to help their students succeed.”

Caloobanan said that she feels her time at Lamar has thoroughly prepared her for future medical pursuits.

“Lamar is providing a quality education for an affordable price,” Caloobanan said. ‘“The scholastic opportunities I have encountered here coupled with challenging classes and extracurricular activities are continuing to enrich my overall college experience.”