Reaching for dreams

Most people don’t spend 20-plus years of their lives in school, but Catie Gogela Carlson did. She went for two consecutive masters degrees, both at CSU.

“It’s not easy and it’s a long road, but it’s doable,” Gogela Carlson said. “I found the perfect job in North Carolina.”


Gogela Carlson studied for a French language masters from 2001 to 2003. Immediately after, she pursued biomedical sciences and neurosciences from 2003 to 2004.

The combination was unusual, but with the ultimate goal to work in international medicine, Gogela Carlson is prepared to make the transition. She currently works in emergency medical services and intensive care at the Carolinas Medical Center in North Carolina.

“I did four years at CU Denver after CSU,” Gogela Carlson said.

Finishing medical school added more years to her education, but it took her less than eight years to get her dream job.

Gogela Carlson graduated fellowship in July and said she does what she loves on a daily basis.

“She realized she could do it,” said Gogela Carlson’s masters professor, Paola Malpezzi Price.

The road wasn’t short, but having two different masters degrees and a unique internship gave her a leg up on the competition.

“She was unusual because she came in with a masters in French,” said Mark Frazier, a professor who worked with Gogela Carlson on her BMS degree. “I remember thinking, ‘What in the world is she trying to do?'”

Gogela Carlson excelled in her science classes despite initial questions from her professors.

As a teaching assistant and student, Gogela Carlson found her niche and decided to pursue medical school.


“(Admissions directors) like more well-rounded students. They like post graduate education and different experiences,” Gogela Carlson said.

The French professor and department head watched as Gogela Carlson applied for an internship to practice French and medicine in Africa. The experience allowed Gogela Carlson to work at a clinic serving locals.

“It didn’t have an academic effect, but allowed her to pursue medicine as well. It really did confirm her interest in the medical profession,” Malpezzi Price said.

The internship in Benin, West Africa, gave Gogela Carlson the taste to follow through with a medical career.

“She turned out to be a really good student,” Frazier said. “We were pleased to accept her.”

The road was long, but Gogela Carlson made it.

“Stick with it,” Gogela Carlson advised other students.

“Find out what really excites you and makes you passionate,” Malpezzi Price advised. “Don’t settle for what you think makes you richer. Find out what makes you feel good.”

Senior Reporter Mariah Wenzel can be reached at For more content follow her on Twitter @mariahcwenzel.