Spring Commencement 2023: Rachel Warren, Waldron College of Health and Human Services

Rachel Warren

Rachel Warren always knew she wanted a healthcare career. Growing up in Roanoke, she watched her hometown’s economy transition from being fueled by the railroad to healthcare and healthcare education — what some have called a change from “train to brain.”

In her own backyard, a medical school was launched, and several colleges and universities increasingly focused on programs that prepared students to enter healthcare fields. Among those schools, one stood out to Warren — Radford University Carilion (RUC).

“I chose RUC because of its reputation,” Warren said. “Locally, RUC is known as a fantastic school to learn about various areas of healthcare. And, with its smaller campus, the faculty and students interact more than they typically do at larger universities.”

Warren said RUC’s size played a major role in her decision to apply and enroll because she knew that she would be able to develop close relationships with the faculty and receive a hands-on education with experiential learning opportunities. However, she still had to pick a degree to pursue.

“The two degrees that piqued my interest at RUC were respiratory therapy and nursing,” Warren recalled, saying she researched both before making her decision. “I ultimately ended up choosing respiratory therapy because I really enjoyed the idea of being an expert on one system in the body.”

After four years in the program, Warren says her decision was the right one.

“My experience in this program has been nothing short of wonderful,” she said. “It helped guide me in finding what I am passionate about and what I ultimately want out of my future career. I’m excited about the positive impact I have and will continue to make on patients’ lives.”

Warren credits the faculty for helping her succeed in the respiratory therapy program at RUC, which she says are unmatched in their clinical skills, professionalism and empathy for students and patients alike.

“They get to know each student personally because they truly care. The faculty wants every student in the program to succeed and will take the time to make sure each one does,” Warren said, adding that the skills and knowledge she has gained will help her throughout her career and continued education.  

Looking forward, Warren plans on spending a few years working as a respiratory therapist in a critical care setting. She has already accepted a position at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital following graduation and has been accepted into a master's program for clinical research.

“I plan to pursue clinical research to help cure some of the common diseases that I have seen my patients suffer from. Throughout my time in the program, I have wanted to help my patients in more ways than I can at the bedside. I believe that I can accomplish that through clinical research,” Warren reflected.

Warren said the respiratory therapy students who will follow in her footsteps should know that the program is designed to help them succeed and that the faculty will be there to help them reach their goals every step of the way.

“They truly have taken the time to carefully curate each course to prepare students for not only the boards but situations they will face in their careers,” Warren said. “I can’t emphasize enough how amazing the faculty is. Respiratory therapy is a growing field and is worth the investment in your future.”

May 3, 2023
Mark Lambert