California Health Sciences University welcome inaugural class for in-person learning

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The very first class of medical students at California Health Sciences University arrived for in-person learning Tuesday.

Laura Gutierrez-Rivera says she has dreamed of being a doctor her entire life.

"I grew up speaking Spanish and we'd go to the family doctor and a lot of times, I was interpreting as a five-year-old," said CHSU Medical Student Gutierrez-Rivera. "I had no idea how to say some of the basic words in English myself. It was inspiring to say, 'I want to be that Spanish speaking physician.'"

So when the acceptance call came from California Health Sciences University, Gutierrez-Rivera says it was a dream come true

"I ignored the phone call the first time because I was so nervous, but then I decided to bite the bullet and call back and I just started crying in the Emergency Department because I was so excited," said Gutierrez-Rivera.

She's one of roughly 80 students starting at the new medical school. It's an opportunity they weren't sure was going to happen amid COVID-19.

"When I got my acceptance I felt on top of the world, so then the worries shift to is it going to be online? Is it going to be postponed?" said CHSU Medical Student David Brown.

Staff is committed to guiding students through the in-person learning safely. The inaugural class each received masks, hand sanitizer and a face shield.

"This is a professional school, a lot of face-to-face learning is preferred and since we can do it safely, we prefer to do it that way to start out," said Dean of CHSU John Graneto.

The new facility was built for 600 students and with only 80 to start, social distancing won't be a problem.

"The amount of material we're going to learn, the fact that it's how to save a life and a human body, I think it's a lot easier for us to do it in person and face to face," said Gutierrez-Rivera.

Over 35% of students, including Gutierrez-Rivera, are from right here in the Central Valley. Classes start for the new students next Monday.
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