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Focusing on her own health led ASU grad to health care degree

erandi ortiz galvan
May 07, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Erandi Ortiz Galvan didn’t start out a Sun Devil but she’s glad she ended up as one.

At the end of her freshman year at the University of Arizona, Ortiz Galvan went into a diabetic coma. When she followed up with her doctor in her hometown of Gilbert, she decided to put her health first and stay close to home. While speaking with an adviser at Arizona State University, she learned about the brand new health care compliance and regulations bachelor’s program and immediately jumped at the chance to enroll. 

“If I hadn’t come to ASU, I would have never known about this program,” Ortiz Galvan said. “It’s the first health care compliance and regulations bachelor program to be offered in the world, so I’m happy I came here and found something that really makes me excited.”

At ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation commencement ceremony this May, Ortiz Galvan will be one of two students who are the first to graduate from the program. A native of Mexico who moved to the U.S. at the age of 8, she hopes to start her career off in a hospital setting to gain experience but her real dream is to work for the Drug Enforcement Agency and help combat America’s opioid crisis.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: When I was 9, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an incurable, lifelong disease. So I wanted to be a doctor up until I was about 19. I actually started my first year as a human anatomy and physiology major but then I realized I don’t like blood. I don’t like the insides. So I talked to my advisor and he mentioned a lot of different health care majors that the College of Nursing and Health Innovation offers, and the last one he mentioned was health care compliance and regulations. So I chose that because I still get to make sure that patients get quality care, just not directly.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective? 

A: I did a lot of volunteering at ASU. One of the organizations I volunteered for was Bak Pak. Their mission was to help the homeless and bring them back into society. So we would go out to central Phoenix and one of the things we did was wash their feet. At first I just thought it was a neat way to give back and something nice to do for them that day. Then when I actually did it, I got to know them and hear their experiences. Sometimes they had things that happened that were out of their control, and now they just don’t know how to get back into society even though they want to. It kind of changed me because I learned that everybody is fighting their own battle and you shouldn’t judge them, and now I apply that to everybody I meet.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Mistakes will happen and it’s OK to change your mind about your major. Just grow from that and learn from that and don’t try to live up to other people’s expectations of you, because you need to find what it is you’re passionate about. Otherwise you’re wasting four years, you’re wasting your money and you’re going to have to start all over again.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I really like the Student Center at the Post Office on the Downtown Phoenix campus. There’s a little window at the front that I would sit at where I could see everything going on outside. It was close by to my classes and it’s quiet. Also, upstairs, there’s TRIO Student Support Services, so there’s free printing and support.

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: I really want to start off in an entry-level position in a hospital setting to get experience. But ultimately I want to work for the Drug Enforcement Agency. They do a lot of regulatory work, a lot of compliance. I learned a lot about them during my courses. The unique thing about my major is that you can apply to more than just one job setting. You can work in a hospital, a provider’s office, a government agency. But I really have a passion for the DEA because we did a lot of studying the opioid crisis that’s happening right now. I’m actually doing my capstone on it. I just like the work they do and their mission, so that’s what I ultimately want to do.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I think I would start with curing Type 1 diabetes, using that money for research. I’ve fundraised with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation every year and they come up with some really cool things but there hasn’t been anything that’s really worked yet. So that’s what I’d do, just because I know what it is to live with it, and I think it would be great to find something that really works and takes that pressure of off kids, because they’re the ones who suffer with it most.

Top photo: Erandi Ortiz Galvan is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in the new degree program from the College of Nursing and Health Innovation: Health Care Compliance and Regulation. The Gilbert resident is half of the first cohort. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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