- Policies & Forms
- Academic Calendar
- Admission & Transfer
- Student Services
Hello! My name is Christa Doerwaldt and I am a 4th year from Winchester, VA. I am a Spanish major with a pre-medical concentration, though being Echols I’ve also been able to take Psychology, German, Music, Religious Studies and even Commerce classes. My long-term goal is to become a doctor serving a community with both a high need and a significant Spanish-speaking population, bridging cultures to alleviate the fear and isolation patients may feel when seeking care in a foreign environment.
Outside of class I cook, run, play music, and help things grow! I also put my major to use volunteering as an interpreter at the U.Va. Medical Center and tutoring adult ESL students both at U.Va. and in the greater Charlottesville community. I’ve channeled my enthusiasm for putting recyclables in their place all four years here as both a volunteer and an employee of U.Va. Sustainability. As such I help further their mission to bring a little green into every corner of the University. I am also a four-year member of Echols Council, the student governing body of the Echols Scholars’ Program. We create academic and social programming for Scholars and work with University administration to shape the program’s goals.
I have been a part of Dr. John Herr’s lab in the U.Va. School of Medicine’s Center for Research in Contraceptive and Reproductive Health (CRCRH) since the spring of my second year. In summer 2010 I was one of a small group of interns there supported by a grant from the NIH that involved not only bench (lab) research but also participation in a Colloquium on Population! This was centered on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals of Maternal and Child Health - great interdisciplinary context for my work! I wrote and was awarded two more grants to continue my work the following summer: the Ingrassia Family Research Award (for Echols Scholars) and the College’s Small Research and Travel Grant.
My research is translational, which means it is conducted with the intent to apply its findings to real-world medical care. My work is primarily focused on Sperm Acrosomal SLLP1 Binding Protein, or SAS1B. SAS1B is an oocyte (egg)-specific protein that is involved in the sperm-egg binding process and is present only within a few very specific stages of oocyte development. This means it could potentially be of use in creating a non-hormonal contraceptive that would affect neither the resting (or base) population of oocytes nor fertilized eggs! SAS1B is also found in some types of cancer and because of this could be a potential diagnostic or therapeutic target.
After graduation I will be spending about a year in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala interning with the Highland Support Project as I apply for medical school! HSP is a non-profit that promotes transformational development through programming within communities in the highlands of Guatemala. My project specifically involves community health work assessing the effects of lifestyle on diabetes’ occurrence and management, networking between midwives (one of several types of traditional healers) to facilitate collaboration and training, and interpreting for short-term service groups.
Charlottesville has felt like home ever since I drove in for a pre-application visit, and I’ll definitely miss it after I graduate. What is U.Va. to me? Studying in the Rotunda, walking through Grounds on a sunny day, the student section at U.Va. Basketball games, inner tube water polo, that break-through moment in class, waking up in the wee hours to participate in a University tradition… I could go on and on! I’ll miss it all but am definitely looking forward to what comes next.