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One Wildcat’s Dream to Bring Healthcare to Medical Deserts

Rhiannon with hands on hips

Meet Rhiannon Olivarez-Kidwell

Graduating in: 2023
From: Merced, California
Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology & Neuroscience

Rhiannon Olivarez-Kidwell proudly stands on the shoulders of family members who came before her. She is determined to honor their dreams and hard work by someday returning home to practice medicine in a place where quality healthcare can be hard to come by.

Driven to Improve Medical Care – Everywhere, for Everyone

What are you most passionate about?

Medical equality. I am studying to become a doctor so that I can return to the Central Valley and practice because the standard of care there is sorely lacking. It's known as a "medical desert" because of how few practitioners there are and how far people have to travel for medical care, even in emergencies. The income level of the Valley also impacts the quality of care that people can receive – a connection that, in my mind, shouldn't exist.

What keeps you motivated?

The possibility of something better keeps me motivated. I can visualize a future where medicine is available to everyone, no matter their income level or location, where disease isn't stigmatized or politicized. That's a future worth fighting for, a goal worth working for, and I am working every day to get there. 

A Family History of Ambition

Tell me about your background and heritage.

My family is a mix of Central America and Europe. Recently, we have been tracing our heritage – it has been wonderful to find out so much and it has given my family a new appreciation for the hard work and dedication to a dream that has been exhibited across generations. I am honored to carry on that legacy, to take up the dream, and to continue my education with my family behind me.

Accomplishing Dreams at Arizona

What has been the most rewarding part about being a student at the University of Arizona so far?

The most rewarding part of being a Wildcat has been the community I have found here. There is always something happening on campus and everyone is eager to make new friends and meet other people, so friendships form quickly. One of the smartest decisions I have ever made was joining the Grupo Folklórico Miztontli dance group on campus. It has been easily one of the best experiences of my life.

My advice to future Wildcats:

Try everything! Take classes that sound cool! Talk to people! Make friends! I could go on for hours. You're only here for a limited time, so find what makes your heart sing and run with it.

Did you know, the University of Arizona is Arizona's first four-year public university recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education? 




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