Alumni Spotlight: Riana Medrano-Nicolaysen '13

Catching up with Riana Medrano-Nicolaysen, Class of 2013

Where have you been since SC Graduation? How was the college/university experience for you? 
After graduation from SC, I attended UCLA and received my degree in 2018. I had already begun working full time as a phlebotomist/lab technician in 2015. I drew blood from patients in the hospital and worked with clinical lab scientists to process specimens. Additionally, I worked a second job as a medical scribe at three emergency rooms in the greater Los Angeles area. 
When not working or studying, I volunteered around the community. During the first year of college, I volunteered at a trauma center that provides 24-hour support, referral, and crisis response for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse.  I was also very involved in working with those facing homelessness. I volunteered at two different homeless shelters in Los Angeles. During my junior year, I went on a medical mission trip to Quito, Ecuador, with a group of medical professionals. We set up temporary clinics, provided health education to local communities, took vital signs, and distributed medication.
After I graduated from UCLA, I took a year off from school to continue working, study for the dreaded GRE, and apply for graduate school. I recently drove from Los Angeles to New Haven, Connecticut, to begin graduate school at Yale School of Nursing, where I will obtain my Master’s Degree in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner with a concentration in Diabetes Care.  
I believe that the largest contribution to reducing health care disparities one can make begins in our own backyard, and once I graduate, I will continue my commitment to engaging in local outreach in my community. I want to reduce barriers to primary health care for vulnerable populations, including those facing homelessness, veterans, and incarcerated individuals. Down the line, I plan on getting my doctoral degree.  

When did you first come to Sierra Canyon? What was your SC experience like? Are there any classes, clubs, teams, or teachers that greatly impacted you? 

I started at SC in 6th Grade at the Lower Campus.  During high school, I recognized how privileged I was to attend a school like SC. Still, it wasn’t until I entered college and became entrenched in the adult world that I came to fully appreciate my experiences at SC.  SC prepared me well for college and molded my work ethic. So many teachers have a special place in my heart: Eric Schrode, Jenny Hernandez, Tom Fennell, Bruce Buenaventura, Yarrott Benz, Ms. Turner Jones  My family and I still keep in touch with all of them.  
SC provided me with resources to explore my interests.  During my senior year Peak Week, in “Behind the scenes of the medical field” with Mr. Cate and Mr. Knepper, I watched my first operation and visited the pathology center at UCLA, met primary care providers, and toured hospitals and clinics. 
There were many other volunteer opportunities during Peak Week and throughout my high school experience that solidified within me the desire to dedicate my life to serving others.
Are you still in touch with anyone from Sierra Canyon? 
I keep in touch with Tanner Cusumano, Abe Roca, Elizabeth Kim, and Jackson Bates on a regular basis. All of us are in grad school, but we still see each other pretty frequently. I consider all of them my family.  
Lower School: 11052 Independence Avenue
Middle and Upper School: 20801 Rinaldi Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311  | 818.882.8121
Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.