About Rachelle Valenzuala Rodriguez

How great would it be to have someone who could see your future, and make sure you were prepared to make the most of it. 

That’s how Rachelle Valenzuala Rodriguez feels about Sage Associate Professor Karen Balter.

“She really took care of me,” Rachelle says. “In the beginning, when I didn’t know yet what I wanted to do, she saw a way to keep my options open. It was as if she knew my future better than I did.”

Professor Balter is an Associate Professor of Health Sciences as well as Program Director of Undergraduate Health Sciences. When Rachelle first arrived at Sage from Stockton, California, she told Professor Balter that she thought she might want to be a physical therapist, but that she might also want to be a medical doctor.

Professor Balter constructed an academic plan that kept both options open.  “She saved me a lot of headaches, “ Rachelle says, “which I really didn’t understand until much later.”

Today, Rachelle is a second year DO student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She plans to specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

She landed at Sage from California in large part because her husband was stationed at the Navy base in Saratoga.

“I ended up really loving Sage,” she says. “The mentorship, support, guidance, and opportunities I gained while at Sage largely contributed to my success.  My professors gave me so much one-to-one time and many of them remain mentors to me to this day.”

Did Rachelle feel prepared to take on the rigors of medical school?

After earning her Sage degree she took three pre-med courses at the University of California, Berkeley. She finished at the top of the class and continues to perform well in her graduate courses.

“Sage prepared me with a strong foundation,” Rachelle says. “Being in small classes gave me the room to understand things in depth. And I wasn’t just prepared academically, I gained research experience, and was a TA and tutor. Sage offers the perfect package for someone who wants to pursue a career in health care.

And what about coming to the Albany area after living in California?

“I loved the hiking I got to do,” Rachelle says. “I hiked in Lake George and Lake Placid, where the views are unbelievable.”

All in all, so far from home, Rachelle talks as if she found a place in Sage where she could become her full self. “I feel like it was a community of people that I really connected with. They brought out the best in me in every way, and for that I’ll always be grateful for my time at Sage.”


“My professors gave me so much one-to-one time and many of them remain mentors to me to this day.”

Rachelle Valenzuala Rodriguez