Former Burns Lake resident pursuing medicine

Julia Varghese has recently graduated from UNBC’s northern medical program

The future looks bright for former Burns Lake resident Julia Varghese.

The 24-year-old overachiever has recently graduated from the University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) northern medical program. She has now moved to Vancouver, where she will be doing her residency.

“Since a very young age she excelled in school and other extra curricular activities such as music and sports,” said her father Jose Varghese, who immigrated to Burns Lake from southern India when he was 19.

While living in Burns Lake, Julia studied at William Konkin Elementary and Lakes District Secondary School.

“She won many medals in the Lakes District Festival [of the Performing Arts] and other music festivals around the region; she also competed in many sports such as cross-country skiing, soccer, volleyball and basketball,” said her father.

“Being a parent, you always want your children to do well in school, but Julia exceeds our expectations,” he added. “We are very proud of her.”

Julia says that although she’ll be doing her residency in Vancouver, she has her eyes set on smaller communities.

“I’ve always been inspired by the skill set of doctors in smaller centres who are able to manage a wide breadth of cases without the support and resources available at a large centre,” she said. “Looking ahead, I hope to eventually move to a smaller centre and do the same.”

However, due to her chosen specialty in internal medicine, she says this smaller centre may not be Burns Lake.

Julia said that while growing up she was always really interested in science.

“I remember when I was a kid, me and my brothers had teddy bears and we would play doctor, put Band-Aids on them,” she described. “While I was in elementary and high-school in Burns Lake, I had teachers that really fostered my love for biology, and that continued into university.”

Although she was always interested in science, Julia didn’t decide that she wanted to pursue medicine until she was completing her undergraduate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology.

“I went into undergrad thinking that being a doctor may be something that I wanted to do, but I was keeping open to pursuing research or pharmacy,” she said. “Through my volunteer experiences, I realized that I really liked connecting with people and hearing their stories, so it was at university when I realized that I really wanted to do medicine as opposed to any other field within science.”

Julia discovered her passion for internal medicine during the northern medical program.

“I was drawn in by the problem solving aspect of internal medicine; I like the complexity and variety of cases, as well as having the time to build a relationship with my patients,” she said.

“It feels pretty surreal to me that I just graduated medical school, and I’m really excited about residency,” she continued. “Now that I’m starting residency, I get to have my own responsibilities and see what my career will look like.”

“I’m excited to move to the city and check out all that Vancouver has to offer, but I will definitely miss the north.”