VICTORIA – Now, more than ever before, the world needs more medical professionals.
With her University of Victoria Vikes soccer career in the rearview, Natalie Cavallin is about to embark into the world of medical school at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the undergraduate medical education program.
“I have a passion for science and I have always loved helping others. Medical school gives me the opportunity to do both and I couldn’t be more excited,” said Cavallin. “I feel so fortunate to stay close to home. I am grateful to stay in B.C. and receive my medical training in the province I want to live in and eventually practice in.”
Her time at Claremont Secondary was when a career in the medical field dawned on her. That intrigue blossomed into a passion at UVic.
“I fell in love with science and I solidified my desire to pursue a career that combines both science and working for the betterment of others,” said Cavallin.
Cavallin worked hard, stayed focused and turned into a solid attacker up front for Vikes women’s soccer – the team she grew up wanting to play for as a local athlete.
One of her big moments this season was against the University of Regina Cougars where Cavallin scored the tying header goal in the 71st minute to salvage a crucial point at Centennial Stadium.
“Natalie is someone extremely committed to whatever she put her mind to. Whether it was on the soccer pitch or in the classroom, she always gave it her best effort. The inner motivation she has leaves me certain that she will be very successful in the medical field,” said Vikes women’s soccer Head Coach Tracy David.
Cavallin enjoyed many team successes with the Vikes and has several lifelong memories to look back on.
She ended her career on the national stage, when the Vikes hosted the U SPORTS Women’s Soccer National Championship. Cavallin mentioned that playing in the 2017-18 U SPORTS National Championship in Manitoba was also a highlight, as the Vikes placed fifth in the country. During the spring season, she scored the winning goal against UBC in the 2018 Keg Cup to earn bronze and the team won the tournament the following year.
“Playing for the Vikes helped me become a better student. The work ethic put into training applied to my studying. My teammates were always so helpful; older players passed down studying advice and constantly supported me. I am so thankful for all soccer has taught me,” said Cavallin.
Cavallin is described by her peers as a role model in the classroom.
“I have a lot of respect for Natalie. She has the perseverance and belief to go out there and do whatever she wants. She sacrificed a lot to play for the Vikes while keeping her academics a huge priority in her life. She is a fantastic role model for our soccer players on the field and in the classroom,” said David.
Cavallin is a three-time Vikes Honour Roll recipient and a lock to receive her fourth honour this fall following her perfect 9.0 UVic Grade Point Average for the 2019-20 year. This spring, she graduated with distinction in Honours Chemistry for the Medical Sciences.
Last fall marked the second time in the 15 years of the Honour Roll that two student-athletes tied for the Provost Award, as they each recorded the highest academic average among all the Vikes. Cavallin and Hannah Walline from women’s basketball shared the award with their 8.88 GPA.
“I was beyond honoured and humbled to win the Provost Award. It truly was an incredible moment. I remember smiling so much because I was shocked and amazed,” said Cavallin, who was always quick to offer support and tutor teammates.
A high GPA helps when applying to medical school, but it isn’t the only thing UBC and other medical schools look for in aspiring students.
Medical institutions also look at how applicants spend their time outside of school: extracurricular activities, volunteering, and special awards can all be determining factors. For Cavallin, playing varsity sports at the highest level in the country and the skills she learned on the field was a big part of her application.
Her resume outside the classroom and soccer pitch was also stacked.
In middle school, Cavallin began volunteering – a hobby she has maintained to this day. Over the past years she volunteered at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health where she worked with kids.
“Volunteering showed me that even a small, kind gesture can have a profound impact on a person,” said Cavallin.
The speedy forward sent her first application into UBC in the fall and learned she made it to the next stage in the winter. Of the 2,558 applicants, she was one of 670 interviewed applicants in the running for one of the 288 seats next fall. Earlier this spring, she was thrilled to find out she earned a seat in the program.
“I owe so much to the Vikes: my teammates, my coaches, the mentors and everyone else who inspired me over the years. Hand-in-hand with my soccer experience, I owe so much to Dr. Hof’s research lab, UVic’s Department of Chemistry, the staff at Queen Alexandra, the teachers, classmates and friends that helped me throughout the years. I am so grateful to be a part of so many amazing communities,” said Cavallin.
Getting into medical school doesn’t mean the highly competitive nature of her studies is over. Over the next four years of classroom, hospital, and elective work, she will build important skills for her future residency.
“I am really excited to explore the many amazing fields in medicine and follow my passions,” said Cavallin, who has an open mind to all areas of specialization in medicine and is ready to find the right path for her.
Whatever she decides, she is certain to make the world a better, safer place.