JABSOM ENQUIRER: Meet Hilo native and MD Class of 2013 President Krista Kiyosaki

JABSOM Enquirer:  We’re here with Krista Kiyosaki. Krista is a fourth-year medical student, and the senior class president. Thanks so much for sharing some time with us today, Krista.

Krista:  No problem. Happy to be here.

JABSOM Enquirer:  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Krista:  Sure!  I was born and raised in Hilo – specifically Waiakea Uka. I moved to O`ahu in high school, where I attended Iolani School. I decided to go to Stanford for college, where I received a BA in Anthropologic Sciences with a focus on Genetic Anthropology, and a minor in Human Biology.

JABSOM Enquirer:  Wow!  That is a mouthful. Seriously, it sounds like you’ve always challenged yourself academically. Guessing you had lots of options after that. Why did you decide to come home to attend JABSOM for medical school?

Krista:  I always believe that “things work out for a reason.” The single biggest reason was family. My grandmother became seriously ill and being home gave me a chance to spend some valuable time with her. That was really important to me.

JABSOM Enquirer:  Sounds like you were close…

Krista and her mother Donna Kiyosaki

Krista and her mother, Donna Kiyosaki

Krista:  The women in my family have always influenced me. My grandmother passed on her traditional family values to me. She inspired me to learn how to sew and cook. Then there’s my mother. She is also a Stanford graduated and majored in engineering at a time when there were very few women in the field. I’ve always looked up to her as a pioneer in the way she is able to balance her career and her family. My mother is a civil engineer, but she recently took the position of the Vice Chancellor at UH West O`ahu. The fact that she chose to undergo a complete career change is something I really respect.

JABSOM Enquirer:  You mother and grandmother sound like amazing people. Guess the apple doesn’t fall from the tree, huh?

Krista:  I’m really a product of my family. My grandfather always stressed education. He didn’t finish a lot of education himself, but he was always pushing us to study hard and take education seriously. He has generously helped me out financially all the way through my educational path so far. My brother has also been influential in my life. He was diagnosed with autism at a young age, but has made tremendous progress and recently graduated from college in Oregon. He has taught me so much about communicating and being more socially aware.

JABSOM Enquirer:  I’m positive they must be very proud of you. We understand you’re interested in research. Can you tell us a little about that?

Halloween MD Student Fun: Reis Harney with a fish hand, Ashley Aratani, Krista as "bath salts zombie," and Zack Chancer as a redneck.

Halloween MD Student Fun: Reis Harney with a fish hand, Ashley Aratani, Krista as “bath salts zombie,” and Zack Chancer as a redneck

Krista:  Promoting research among my fellow medical students is something I’m really passionate about. I spent three years as the research coordinator for the Heart Transplant Program at UCLA where I saw how research directly impacted clinical care. Medicine is so dynamic and changing and research is a way to get the next level. I don’t know how you can’t get excited about that!

I’ve served as the co-president of the JABSOM Research Interest Group (RIG). We created a Translational Research Forum for JABSOM students, and set up a database of research mentors. We hope these resources motivate our JABSOM students and help them get connected to mentors.

Personally, I really enjoy helping to pair medical students with faculty and/or possible research mentors, and bringing information about research opportunities to the first- and second-year students.

JABSOM Enquirer:  Thanks for being such a champion and leader in this area. Have you found your research interests and experiences coming up in your residency interviews?

Krista:  Absolutely. It comes up all the time during residency interviews. I think it shows programs that you have initiative, and can follow through on your ideas and commitments. I really think that having participated in research opens a lot of doors.

JABSOM Enquirer:  Tell us about your recent travels… 

Krista:  Well, I’m interested in doing residency training in the area of ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgery. I recently went back to Stanford to do an elective in ENT there. It was nice to be back in a familiar setting, and to see some familiar faces.  I also went to the University of North Carolina to explore their ENT program, and get a sense of what it would like to live in the Southern part of the country. (Our main photograph shows Krista in the Blue Ridge Mountains of  N.C.)

JABSOM Enquirer:  Lots of good country music in that area…

Krista:  I love country music.  My favorite artists include the Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker, Toby Keith, and Garth Brooks.

JABSOM Enquirer:  All great artists…we could talk for hours about country music, but we better move on. So what are some of your hobbies?

Krista:  Most people wouldn’t know that I love to read children’s novels, science fiction, fantasy, and series that are popular with young adults – things the Divergent series, the Hunger Games, and the Seven Waters Trilogy.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed watching college football. I always cheer for Stanford, but I’m also a huge Notre Dame fan because of Manti Te’o. He’s a true inspiration and a genuinely good person. Makes you wonder, if a kid from Laie can inspire thousands of people, what can we do as the JABSOM class of 2013?

JABSOM Enquirer:  What are some of your fondest memories of your education here at JABSOM?

Attending Reis Harney's wedding on O`ahu's North Shore: Ashley Aratani, Krista and Tiffany Lai

Attending Reis Harney’s wedding on O`ahu’s North Shore: Ashley Aratani, Krista and Tiffany Lai

Krista:  I am a strong believer in the strengths of the JABSOM PBL (Problem-based learning) process. I know it isn’t for everyone, but for me it definitely worked. I found that the early collaboration translates really well to the wards. In my third year clerkship rotations, I felt confident and prepared. When I went away to do rotations at other medical schools, I found that some of the students there were more aggressive than what we’re used to here. However, our training was definitely up to par with the other students.

JABSOM Enquirer:  What are your long term plans and goals?

Krista:  Long term, I think I want to pursue more of an academic career. I like the idea of working with others on challenging cases. I’m really looking forward to coming back and working with my classmates on multidisciplinary healthcare teams.

JABSOM Enquirer:  Something tells me you will be very successful.  OK, one last question for you.  Why did you agree to be interviewed by the JABSOM Enquirer?

Krista:   I think it is a great idea to highlight our students more. By doing this myself, I’m hoping a lot of my classmates would also agree to do so. So many of them would have exciting and interesting things to share. We have so much diversity within our class.

The JABSOM Enquirer would like to thank Krista Kiyosaki for agreeing to be interviewed for our column, and for tremendous contributions she has made as a student and leader here at JABSOM. We should all be very proud of Krista, and wish her well in her future endeavors! 

Until next time, this is the (anonymous) JABSOM Enquirer signing out.  Take care, and aloha…

Editor’s Note: Our JABSOM Enquirer prefers to remain anonymous. But we say MAHALO for another insightful column about our awesome MD students!

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