Meet a MedCat: Karen Ibarra

April 1, 2021
Karen Ibarra and Chelsea Marshall

Karen Ibarra (right) and Chelsea Marshall, UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson fourth-year students are among about 120 local medical students who celebrated their residency match Friday, March 19. (Photo: Courtesy of Karen Ibarra)

Karen Ibarra

Karen Ibarra is a self-described “Wildcat at heart.” She is from San Luis, AZ and moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona. She earned a Bachelor's of Science in Public Health and then completed the College of Medicine – Tucson (COM-T) Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway (P-MAP) Program, which led her to COM-T. Karen loves being a part of COM-T because, “it really values diversity and serving the underserved.”

Growing up in a small town, Karen experienced health disparities firsthand which sparked an interest to help people and give back to her community. She is most proud of her roots and her parents who, “are the reason why I am where I am today. My parents came from Mexico to the U.S. with work permits and they raised four children, they are truly the definition of hard work.”


Karen will graduate in May with distinctions in Rural Health, Medical Spanish, and Community Service. She will pursue residency in Neurology, and looks forward to learning and talking about the nervous system every day, and to the close patient relationships it requires.  Karen was always intrigued with the nervous system, “my interest was further reassured through my Neurology rotation and other Neurology electives that showed me how there are many disparities within Neurology and it is a specialty where I can really create change.”

In her free time, Karen enjoys baking, spending time with family and friends, hiking and the mental and physical discipline of outdoor running. She is also, what she refers to as “secretly obsessed” with Orcas, “I was fascinated when I learned about their lifestyle and how they are very family-oriented, and have their own language. Whale watching is high on my bucket list!”