Utah State University Eastern student Spencer Downs came to the Price campus in 2018 to pursue student athletics. During his two years of playing baseball as an Eagle, he met his wife, Riley. While his wife was in nursing school, Spencer began to work on his Bachelor’s degree.
Originally, Spencer planned to major in psychology. It was the best
degree to major in for students who have plans for medical school. However, plans changed as the new biology major at Utah State University Eastern was introduced as part of the ongoing USU Eastern expansion. Fortunately for Downs and the other premedical students hoping to get their Bachelor’s degree in Price, the Biology Department is finally able to offer courses that fulfill the majority of graduate program prerequisites for students hoping to go on to health professions following the completion of their undergraduate degree.
After working a few things out, Downs was one of the first two students to graduate from Eastern with a full Bachelor’s degree in Biology. This set him up to apply to medical school and prepared him to take the MCAT [Medical College Admissions Test]. Because of the degree available to him, Downs checked all the boxes as he applied to over 20-different medical schools.
When asked if there were any mentors that helped him achieve his recent academic success, he named Eastern Professor Wayne Hatch. “He is the biology professor at Eastern who helped me the most and was the main person who convinced me to stay in Price to finish my degree.” Spencer’s original plan was to finish his two years playing baseball as an Eagle, then move to UVU in order to get his degree. After Dr. Hatch informed him about this new biology degree, he emphasized all of the networking the department was able to do for him and all the support and opportunities that would be available to him should he choose to stay.
As Downs applied for medical school, many people in the community were supportive of his efforts when it came to shadowing local doctors and getting service hours. To gain some experience in the field, he was able to shadow USU Eastern athletic director Jess Brinkerhoff, M.D. Shane D. Gagon, as well as D.O. Russell Beecher. He attested to how friendly and helpful each of them were in his journey.
After the application process was complete, Spencer Downs was accepted into Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine in Meridian, Idaho as well as Rocky Vista University in Ivans, Utah. Spencer plans to attend Rocky Vista University this upcoming Fall where he will start with the dream to one day specialize in the surgical field and open a practice in a rural community, potentially even Price.
When asked about anything he’d like to mention about the process, Spencer advises students like him to, “Consider staying in Price because there are far more opportunities than you would think there are, and you are able to get to know people well and create a support system that will help you reach your final destination. Even if you aren’t the typical 4.0 student your entire career and don’t fit the category of a traditional medical student, anyone can do it if they work hard.”