Select Utah Health Scholar Biographies

Class of 2017

Carson Chandler 

Carson Chandler Headshot

Major: Human Nutrition

Future Career: Physical Therapist

Hometown:  Cedar City, UT

Campus: Southern Utah University

Physical Therapy Schools Accepted to: Ohio State University, University of Utah

School Enrolled Fall 2017 In: The University of Utah

Carson volunteered with Tyler Brinkerhoff doing physical/occupational therapy exercises at Iron County Preschool for a semester and loved it! Carson's advice to those in Rural Health Scholars is to "study hard, but don't forget to find other ways to be involved on campus; ways that you really enjoy (doesn't always have to be medicine related). You might just find great volunteer/leadership opportunities that will help you with your applications."

Taylor Sorenson

Taylor Sorenson

Major: Biology

Future Career: Physician

Hometown:  Aurora, UT

Campus: Southern Utah University

Medical Schools Accepted to: Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, Pacific Northwest University

School Enrolled Fall 2017 In: Pacific Northwest University

Taylor was a Service Leader for the Special Olympics via the Community Engagement Center. She also served as a counselor for Camp Kesem and as an RHS mentor in the RHS office. Her most memorable experience was her service trip to the Dominican Republic. The reality of third world health care made her want to become a physician in order to one day return and volunteer in rural areas. Taylor's advice to current RHS students is: "Don't be overwhelmed. It seems like a lot of tasks (shadowing, volunteer, good grades, etc.) you will have to accomplish in your short years as an undergrad, but take everything one step at a time. You will be able to be successful. Just enjoy each experience and really discover if working in health care is what you wish to do."

Robert Hillstead

Robert Hillstead Headshot

Major: Spanish

Future Career: Optometrist

Hometown:  St. George, UT

Campus: Southern Utah University

Optometry Schools Accepted to: Midwestern University- AZ, Southern California College of Optometry.

School Enrolled Fall 2017 In: Midwestern University- AZ

During his time with RHS, Robert volunteered as a counselor for Camp Kesem, was a Lion's Club volunteer, enjoyed being a part of the Brazil Club and worked with students in the 4H program. He recommends that current RHS students, "Get exposed to your prospective career early. Do shadowing, research, etc. to find out if the healthcare career that you want is right for you. If you want to go into healthcare and know it's for you, then do it!"

Class of 2016

Kacey Hutchinson

Kacey Hutchinson

Major: Chemistry

Future Career: Pharmacist

Hometown:  Bountiful, UT

Campus: Southern Utah University

Pharmacy Schools Accepted to: Roseman University and the University of Utah.

School Enrolled Fall 2016 In: The University of Utah College of Pharmacy.

Kacey served as a Rural Health Scholars Peer Mentor in the office, where he helped to mentor incoming pre-pharmacy students.  He was also on the track and cross country team, and enjoys triathlons as well.  Kacey served an LDS mission in Italy, and now speaks Italian. In his future, Kacey plans to serve a Utah community as a pharmacist.  His younger brother is also a pre-pharmacy student in RHS!

Marissa Maciel

Marissa Maciel

Major: Nursing

Future Career: Nurse

Hometown:  Salinas, CA

Campus: Southern Utah University

Nursing Schools Accepted to: Southern Utah University Nursing Program

School Enrolled In: Southern Utah University Nursing Program (graduated Spring 2016)

Marissa was very active on campus and as a Peer Mentor with Rural Health Scholars during her time at SUU.  She indicates that "RHS has helped me so much and I feel I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for the guidance they provided me."  Marissa was a strong applicant to SUU's very competitive nursing program and has a very bright future ahead of her!  Her goal one day is to enroll in a nursing graduate program and travel to Europe.

Alex Nielson

Alex Nielson

Major: Biology with a chemistry minor

Future Career: Medical physician

Hometown:  Holiday, Utah

Campus: Southern Utah University

Medical Schools Accepted to: Des Moines University, Midwestern University, University of Utah, Roseman Franklin at Chicago, West Virginia University, and Pennsylvania State University.

School Enrolled Fall 2016: University of Utah School of Medicine

Alex was honored by being the valedictorian of Southern Utah University for commencement in 2016, due to her 4.0 GPA in difficult coursework.  During her time in Rural Health Scholars, Alex traveled twice to Nicaragua for a cultural immersion trip to serve individuals in this third-world country.  One day, she hopes to lead her own medical missions similar to this experience.  During college, Alex was a dancer with the Waukeenyans, tutor for multiple subjects, counselor of Camp Kesem, and volunteer with the Cedar City Hospital.

Durstin Hooper

Durstin Hooper

Major: Biology (and has completed a B.S. in Nursing)

Future Career: Dentist

Hometown:  Kingsville, TX

Campus: Dixie State University

Dental Schools Accepted to: University of Utah, Roseman University, The University of Texas at San Antonio, The University of Texas at Houston, The University of Oklahoma, Midwestern University, and Arizona School of Dental and Oral Health (AT Still University).

School Enrolled Fall 2016: The University of Texas at Houston

Durstin has always been interested in healthcare and his passion for dentistry specifically stems from a desire to have long lasting patient relationships, become a leader in his community, and give back to underserved populations. During college, Durstin was involved in RHS as well as the Pre-Dental Society and was very active in the RHS Dental Practicum course.  In addition, Durstin traveled on a medical shadowing trip with RHS to Native American reservations in the Four Corners area.  While on this trip, he learned from local healthcare providers that offered care to this underserved population.  After dental school, Durstin plans to co-own a practice with his twin brother, Anson Hooper. Their hope is to serve in a rural area, where dental care is in great need.