Story by Alex Betts
Photo by Alicia Alderete
For most of high school, senior Sarah Uriarte has flown under the radar. The humble upperclassman has worked conscientiously to improve the lives of others in her diverse pursuits. Recently, she attained the acclaim she has long deserved; Uriarte was named a Weldon awardee and commended at the PTSA Honorary Service Award Luncheon for her initiative and empathy.
Uriarte’s curiosity regarding medicine spans a decade; she recounts wanting to learn about the underlying healing processes of broken arms and cuts in elementary school. Once in high school, she took action, and her incredible descent into the medical fields has spanned disciplines and communities. At SPHS, she is known for founding Tiger Medicine, a school club, and creating the Health Fair, which hosts roughly 20 local health organizations including Planned Parenthood, Keck Medicine, and the Red Cross.
“I started Tiger Medicine because I wasn’t sure what I could do during high school to get ahead and learn about the medical field and the opportunities [available to me]. The club is a space for interested students to learn about the anatomy of certain biological structures through dissections, talk to healthcare professionals about their education, and get certified in CPR.”
Extending far beyond SPHS, the Girl Scout earned her gold award for spearheading a fitness workshop for the youth group at St. James Church and a mental health panel discussion at the Calvary Church. For two years, Uriarte has interned for a graduate student studying microbiology at CalTech, aiming to unearth the different relationships between proteins that could potentially be key targets for developing antibody chains and fighting diseases. Because apparently that’s not enough, Uriarte gained hands-on medical experience at Huntington Hospital in the neuroscience stroke unit and through the SPHS Red Cross club as first aid responder.
“At Huntington Hospital I would assist doctors and nurses with minor healthcare roles such as feeding patients and getting them water, as well as clerical work like filing charts. I [especially] like feeding patients because I can bond with them during a scary time. It’s nice being in a position to help others with their immediate needs.”
As the past captain of varsity girls’ country and a varsity member of girls’ track, Uriarte barely ever gets a breather; the athletes on varsity cross country and track get a basically-nonexistent two week break. Insanely, both seasons encompass practices that run two to three hours a day, six days every week. However, the senior has found joining these teams to be one of the best choices she has ever made.
“[Running taught me] to appreciate the value in hard work and love watching my daily efforts in practice pay off during races. I like challenging myself and being the best I can possibly be. It is hard, but that’s part of the beauty of it; being able to persevere through hard work is a great feeling.”
Uriarte’s assiduousness is remarkable, yet it may even be overshadowed by her lightheartedness. With her 15-20 hour work week at Mathnasium and heavy senior course load of four APs, it would be easy to lose optimism. Instead, she always maintains a cheerful demeanor and has an omnipresent, contagious laugh. As she heads to Brown University to study psychology, she will undoubtedly remain grounded and humbled by remembering the jobs her father and immigrant mother have worked to provide her with these opportunities, of which she has taken full advantage.