CHS Students Meet, Become Best Friends, Tackle PA Together

‘School is a lot easier with a good friend’

By Sara Pisoni
CHS Contributor

The first time they met was on Zoom. It would be almost a year later before they talked in person.

But by that time, they’d be the best of friends.

“When we were ambassadors in 2020, everything was online,” Brooke says.

Meet best friends and Physician Assistant Studies classmates Brooke Woosley and Thanya Gutierrez Chavez, students in the class of 2024 who met two years ago as undergraduates in the College of Health Sciences.

They were both Human Health Sciences majors, and both served as CHS ambassadors together during the 2020-2021 school year, where they met and initially only knew each other through Zoom meetings and classes. Still, they became fast friends.

When Thanya, a junior at the time, discovered Brooke, a senior, was also pre-PA, she said she reached out and asked lots of questions about the application process and how to prepare. This is how they got to know each other more, and once they found out they were going to be in PA school together, it was an easy choice to room together.

It ended up meaning the world to both.

“Having a best friend in school makes it 100 times better because it’s someone who’s going through the same thing as you, that understands you the best,” Thanya says.

Brooke echoed the sentiment. “When you don’t feel like you have anyone that you can go to, I always have Thanya to go to,” she says.  

Whether it is helping each other study pharmacology, cooking together (their latest obsession is Thanya’s Mexican Street corn), or just having a best friend to unburden themselves to, they say going through school with someone who understands you the best makes it easier for both.

Casey Shadix, PhD and director of the CHS Office of Student Affairs, says he sees it all the time: It’s easier for students to succeed in college when they make relationships and get involved.

“We purposefully group our students together within Health Sciences programs to build relationships that help ensure a community that supports one another at every turn,” he said.

Brooke, from Winchester, Ky., says she knew she wanted to stay in Kentucky for her education, but Thanya came to UK from Colorado.

“I fell in love with UK and especially CHS, with what they had to offer,” Thanya says. She noted the size of the school and program, as well as the ability to know her professors and classmates. She also knew about UK’s PA program — and in the end, she did not want to be anywhere else.

Originally a Biology major at UK, Brooke transitioned into CHS because of “how intimate it was with classes, professors, and students.” She says she has a passion for serving Kentucky and she knew that the PA profession will allow her to make a difference in the Commonwealth.

But they’ve already helped make a difference for the College.

As ambassadors, Brooke and Thanya contributed to developing the Diversity Healthcare Program, which partners with Bryan Station High School Medical Academy students who are of underrepresented groups with the goal of diversifying healthcare professions.

Both are still involved with the program, and now serve as mentors. “Now seeing the program happening and us being a part of it still as mentors is very full-circle,” Brooke notes.

Neither sees their friendship ending when they graduate in June 2024.

“Thanya will be in my wedding for sure,” Brooke says.

Thanya laughs, and says, “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

Not that Brooke would want to. She put it succinctly: “PA school is a lot easier with a good friend.”

Find out more about the PA program here

Or, are you interested in the Physician Assistant Academic Residency Program?