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Faces of South - Student Profile

Christina Calimlim: A Med School Bound Campus Leader

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February 23, 2017

Most people would say they want to avoid the emergency room; South Seattle student Christina Calimlim, 24, wants nothing more than to be in one.

“There’s something about how fast-paced it is, there’s a lot to see and a lot going on, sometimes even live surgeries that happen right in front of you,” says Christina, who has volunteered for Harborview Hospital over several months. “I knew the first time I was assigned there it’s where I wanted to be.”

Working towards earning her A.S. in biology, Christina grew up with the notion that a career in medicine was the smartest, if not the only path to a good-paying career.

“Wanting a job in healthcare is really built into Filipino culture,” says Christina. “Seventy percent of students go into medical school or nursing, and everywhere you go you’ll see people in white uniforms. For a while when I was a kid, I thought being a doctor or nurse were the only things to be when you grew up” 

Christina and her family immigrated to the US from the Philippine capitol of Manila when she was fifteen-years-old; moving over 6000 miles to begin a new life in Seattle. While most kids her age grappled with the pressures of high school, Christina faced the added struggle of adapting to a new culture and language.

“English is our second language in the Philippines,” says Christina. “But speaking in class is very different than socializing. It’s hard to make friends when you can hardly put together a sentence.”

Today, as vice president of the United Student Association, Christina speaks on behalf of the South student body, giving them a voice in their education.

“USA advocates for the students and their needs” says Christina who is also the secretary for South’s Women in STEM-Club and a sitting member of the campus Safety Committee. “We focus on major issues and concerns on campus. For example, smoking policies and textbook pricing. We try to make it easier for them to succeed in school.”

“South has given me so many great opportunities and has helped me grow in a ways I never thought of before.”
- Christina Calimlim

As a full-time student and mother of two (7 and 4), Christina is unique in her understanding of the pressures of college life. During the fall 2016 quarter, she balanced three jobs on top of her responsibilities as a student and leader on campus.

“It was a mentally exhausting experience, but I’m glad I did it,” says Christina. “For me, it’s all about balance. When I’m at school I only focus on school, and when I am home I try to only focus on my family.”

After earning her associate degree from South, Christina plans to attend the University of Washington and later enter medical school.

She has a long road before she can lead the emergency room, but with the education and experience she earned at South Christina is confident she’ll meet her career goals.

“Before I came to South I was working a nine-to-five job as a server,” says Christina. “Now here I am meeting legislators and the president of our school. South has given me so many great opportunities and has helped me grow in a ways I never thought of before.”