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Gavi Roda - CUSOM Graduation 2021

Community Students

Exploring the World Leads to Medicine

Gavi Roda’s travels sparked her passion to care for underserved communities.

Author Chanthy Na | Publish Date May 10, 2021
What You Need To Know

This story is part of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s graduation coverage highlighting our graduates.
The commencement ceremony will take place on Friday, May 28, 2021, at 9 a.m.

Gavi Roda’s journey to medicine was seeded at a young age but didn’t fully blossom until her teenage years. As a child, she traveled frequently with her parents, Veralex and Greg Roda. Her family crisscrossed the world and moved more than eight times, including living in Singapore for four years, before finding a home in Broomfield, Colorado.

“My two younger sisters and I were very much encouraged by my parents to adventure,” Roda says. “We bounced all over the world, which gave us access to so many unique places and cultures that we experienced together.”

Ultimately, those adventures would lead her to the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Travels uncover passion for medicine

Roda’s travels and living abroad became a symbolic road map that would guide her to becoming a doctor. Seeing different cultures, experiencing their lifestyles, and hearing impactful stories, she began to connect her compassion for the world with her growing love for science.

“I didn't quite realize this until I was in high school, but traveling had a huge impact on my interest in medicine,” Roda says. “I was not the person who, at the age of 4, knew I wanted to be a doctor. I thought I would be a fighter pilot in the military.”

Roda describes how her global adventures shaped her views. Seeing poverty and disparities around the world and having conversations with her parents on what they experienced together opened her eyes and fostered her desire to find ways to make a difference.

“It was in high school that I realized I liked science and wanted to use this to serve others,” Roda says. “But in retrospect, having experienced living abroad and seeing the difference in culture, lifestyles, and poverty, it was always there.”

Roda completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado Denver and took two gap years to further explore her interest in medicine. She spent time working in the Section of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine with Jay Lemery, MD, professor of emergency medicine, and Elaine Reno, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine. Roda also worked as a medical scribe in the emergency department at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, where she scribed for Emilie Calvello-Hynes, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, and Jeffrey Druck, MD, professor of emergency medicine, before applying for medical school. All four faculty members would continue to support Roda throughout her time as a medical student.

Gavi&Family - 5-7-21

Gavi with her husband, Korey, and dog, Lulu. 

Navigating imposter syndrome and finding her way

Stepping onto campus for the first time as medical student, Roda, like many of her peers, felt a wave of imposter syndrome kicking in. Medical school had been built up to feel like drinking from a fire hose at a moment’s notice. However, what felt seemingly impossible on day one became possible with each class she took.

“Medical school is hard, and I can't lie about that, but it is shocking what we are capable of learning,” Roda says. “When I got to my third year, there was a moment where I realized, ‘Wow, it’s all coming together.’ We can interview patients, ask the right questions, present our findings to a team, and come up with plans.”

Roda attributes her growth as a medical student to many faculty members, especially T. Brett Reece, MD, professor of cardiothoracic surgery, and Steven Lowenstein, MD, MPH/MSPH, professor of emergency medicine. Through the training she received and with numerous classmates who became lifelong friends, she found it rewarding to learn what she was capable of and observed how her confidence grew over the past four years.

“I had a blast! I think everyone has ups and downs in med school, and there were certainly times where I questioned myself,” Roda says. “But I really enjoyed my time in medical school, learning to take care of patients. I'm excited to keep learning.”

Love of community leads back to emergency medicine

Roda will continue her training in the Denver Health Residency Program in Emergency Medicine, where she matched this March. Despite wanting to become a cardiothoracic surgeon for the past three years, she made a last-minute switch back to emergency medicine. She felt like things were coming full circle.

“The emergency department really raised me during my gap years after undergrad,” Roda says. “My time there inspired me to apply for medical school, and in the end, emergency medicine was where my heart was at.”

Landing at Denver Health to further her training was her first choice and felt like coming home. During her travels, Roda discovered how much she enjoyed connecting with people from all walks of life. She describes the overwhelming joy she felt as people shared their life stories with her.

“At the end of my career, when looking back, what I want to have accomplished in medicine is interacting with the community and being there for people, regardless of background,” Roda says. “Ultimately, this is why I went into medicine — it was for the humanity of it.”

Words of advice for the Class of 2025

Counting the days to graduation, Roda reflects on some of the important lessons she learned along the way. She discovered the importance of compassion for self and taking the time to enjoy those around you, especially during the pandemic.

“The pandemic was a good reminder for me to slow down and learn how to rest, which is something that I'm not great at. I have a great husband and wonderful dog that I got to spend a ton of time with,” Roda says. “We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, we set high expectations. But I have learned it’s important to show yourself the same grace you would give to your patients.”

Roda is looking forward to her next four years of training and “working her tail off.” She wants to continue working in research, participating in community outreach, and staying connected with medical education.