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Spartan Impact Stories: Carmen Calvillo

Spartan Impact Stories: Carmen Calvillo

Hartford, Michigancarmen in white coat in lab

Medical Laboratory Science major

Graduation: December 2022

Carmen Calvillo, a senior pursuing a Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) degree, was selected to be honored at the Cowles House before the Michigan State University football game against Rutgers on November 12. She was nominated by Dr. Kathy Hoag who is a professor in the Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics Program. Calvillo shared her journey and experience at Michigan State University with a group of MSU staff and faculty, along with interim MSU president Teresa K. Woodruff.

Calvillo, a first-generation college student, has engaged with a variety of student success and extracurricular opportunities available at MSU: College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), Dow STEM Scholar, TRIO Program Scholar, Bailey Scholar, Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated, Multicultural Greek Council, Mujer a Mujer , and Research Enrichment Program to Increase Diversity.

She recently finished her clinical rotation at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, MI and was hired as a generalist.

Q and A with Carmen Calvillo

Why did you decide to be a medical laboratory science major?

I decided to become a medical laboratory science major because growing up, going to doctor appointments with my parents, I would translate for them throughout their doctor visits from Spanish to English. I was curious to find out what they did with their blood and because of that, I was more interested in the health field. I also want to provide resources for people, especially within my community, to help translate from English to Spanish. I want to help them learn how to live a healthy life and understand the results of their lab tests. A lot of the times people within my community don't go to doctors because of the lack of insurance or other circumstances.  I want to be able to be the link to help them seek out those resources, understand them, and answer any questions they may have.

What was your first year like at Michigan State University?

It was filled with different emotions. MSU is a large university and coming from a small town, it was kind of hard to get used to that. Where I come from, everyone knows everyone. It's also a predominantly white institution, so it was hard to find other people that looked like me or had similar backgrounds. That was an obstacle I had to get through, but thankfully there are programs within MSU that helped with that and helped me get out of my comfort zone.

How did you find your community at Michigan State University?

I came in through the CAMP program, (which) essentially helps (college) students coming from migrant farm worker’s background who work in agriculture. That helped me with having some sort of space at MSU. It was nice having other people to relate to and practice any traditions, like food, or other things that remind me of home. It was really nice to have that community.

When did you know the Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics Program (BLD) was right for you?

When I took my first BLD class, 213L: Clinical Laboratory Methods, I fell in love. It was in the lab and it was very basic. I was like, “okay, I can't wait to learn more”. I fell in love with (BLD), and I continued with it because I saw myself growing into that field and helping me with my future career goals.

Why do you like being a Medical Lab Scientist?

It is fun. It can be hard and nothing comes easy. I call it a hidden gem, because once you find it, you don’t want to let go of it. I’ve learned a lot.

How did you help your classmates in TRIO Program?

I was essentially a peer coach. My goal was to basically help students navigate the institution, offer them any academic resources, and help them build their professional skills. Later, I was promoted to a peer lead coach, where I oversaw a staff of peer coaches.

What advice would you give to students that have a story similar to yours?

You’re not alone in this (journey) and there are other people who feel the same exact way. Definitely push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try out different organizations and different events and try to network that way. That’s what definitely helped me out.