Larissa Miyachi - Award-winning Scholar, Stanford University Medical Student - Yuba College

Marissa Miyachi earned the 2012 University Medal as UC Davis’ top graduating senior, joining a select group that includes the U.S. Treasury Department’s chief economist. But she credits her two years at Yuba College in Marysville as the gensis of her collegiate success.

"(The University Medal) was particularly meaningful to me, as it reflects the support and encouragement of all who helped me become who I am today," Miyachi said. "It also reflects my years at Yuba College, as this is where I first gained confidence that a rural student who had originally envisioned a future in writing or art could also excel in mathematics and science."

After a summer interning at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and a year interviewing at prospective medical schools, Miyachi is studying at Stanford University.

Miyachi said Stanford feels like the perfect fit for her because the program strongly encourages students to integrate their lives into their medical studies.

"One of the things that stood out to me about Stanford is how they really embrace creativity," Miyachi said. "I loved research through undergrad at UCD and hope to continue participating in research in medicine, but I also love creative writing and art. Stanford encourages students to integrate all of their interests and skills into their medical school experience."

At 17, Miyachi graduated from high school and began studying at Yuba College. Although Miyachi was home-schooled and went from a class of one to a class of 100 in her first course at Yuba College, she said her transition into college was remarkably smooth.

Supportive instructors and small class sizes made her feel comfortable as a college student, she said, and as Miyachi walked the campus each day, her love of the natural world transformed into a drive to study science.

She engaged in a research project developing a nanoparticle-based system for site-specific chemotherapy delivery right after transferring to UC Davis. Miyachi said she loves investigating the submicroscopic world of nanoscience, but the experience sharpened her awareness of health and disease and made her realize that she wanted to work personally with those in need of medical care. Miyachi’s desire to become a physician solidified as she interacted with patients and health care teams at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

"As a future physician, I look forward to using these passions to effectively communicate information to patients and to one day teach others the art and science of medicine," Miyachi said. "I am still exploring a variety of medical fields, but my goal is to enter academic medicine, where I may pursue a lifelong journey of healing, discovery and teaching."

Miyachi said she enjoys exploring and taking on challenges, both of which were rooted in her early years in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills. Her hometown is Oregon House, a rural town of 300 residents with a name, she said, that often misleads people to believe she’s from Oregon. Growing up in rural California and being home-schooled her entire childhood, she developed a creative streak and a passion for learning as she helped with the family garden, raising dairy goats and exploring the family’s 10 acres of oak chaparral.

"Looking back, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to begin my journey at Yuba College," Miyachi said. "Although I am still learning how to fly, Yuba College was the first wind that caught my wings when I took to the sky."

Read about more notable alumni...