UA Wildcats make their mark in ASU Sun Devil country

Why rival schools sharing the city benefits Phoenix's medical students

The ASU and UA battle has been an ongoing collegiate sports rivalry for generations. While the main campuses of both universities are over 100 miles apart, the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix has stood as its own UA college within Sun Devil Country for over a decade. 

ASU does not offer a graduate medical program, so the UA campus may be the closest option for Phoenix students looking to pursue a post-graduate medical degree.

The UA College of Medicine, based in Phoenix, lies on the edge of the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus, noted by the sudden change from Sun Devil to Wildcat banners as students continue down East Van Buren Street. The downtown medicinal area is home to the UA College of Medicine, UA College of Pharmacy and also the NAU Biomedical Campus

However, even as the 2018 football season ensues and the impending November game between the schools grows closer, UA Phoenix Wildcats have set aside the rivalry for most of the year, looking towards continuing a collaborative environment on their campus. 

According to their website, the UA College of Medicine - Phoenix states its core values as, “Collaboration, Community, Diversity, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity and Servant Leadership.” These values are all reflected particularly in their campus location.


Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for the UA Health Sciences and College of Medicine Phoenix, Allison Otu, works with students and faculty downtown. She calls the campus a melting pot, because of the mix of students from different universities who all attend courses in the same area.  

The campus has an overall goal of improving both the health of Phoenix residents and the compassion and care between physicians and patients. The university works towards creating a “supportive, uplifting and promoting environment,” among the rival schools in order to create positive impacts among future physicians regardless of originating school, Otu said. 

The campus location and infamous rivalry between the two Arizona schools does not go ignored by the students who attend the medical university. However, former Sun Devils and second year medical students, Sam Beger and Ceci Chou, agree that the intent of the medical campus is to encourage teamwork among students while they are studying the field, setting the competition aside. These students serve UA Phoenix and work closely with the campus Student Affairs Team as Student Government Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. 

“It’s really more fun for us,” Chou said. “A ton of people come from ASU, and an equally high number come from U of A. We’re very proud to be from ASU and we’re also very proud to say right now that we’re at U of A Phoenix.” 

Beger and Chou studied different areas of higher education before pursuing careers in medicine. The two described their experiences and reasoning behind choosing to attend the UA Phoenix campus.

“Being able to stay in town close to our families and to continue to build on those relationships that we’ve had since ASU is just a blessing that you probably wouldn’t be able to find in many other places,” Chou said. 

Otu said that many students have families of their own in Phoenix which makes having the ability to pursue a degree at a local UA campus more convenient than having to go to Tucson.

Students who attend the UA Phoenix campus carry a sense of pride for the city; many are grateful to be surrounded by peers and faculty who promote constant positivity and unity. The tight-knit classes are made up of individuals from different undergraduate backgrounds, yet the sense of support far outweighs that of competition.

Even as the UA faculty and students represent the school’s core values, some students still reflect on their original ASU roots from time to time.

“ASU has given me a lot, going to ASU really fostered an entrepreneurial mindset and I think that’s really something that’s invaluable,” Beger said. “And I’ve gained so much here at U of A, it’s a really special place to be. I thank both of our state schools for getting me here.”

While the melting pot of a medical campus in downtown stands as a beacon of collaboration and teamwork, the ASU and UA feud continues to be a true tradition among students excited for the upcoming football season. 

“All bets are off when we’re talking about sports,” Otu said. “We’ll definitely be sporting our red and blue come (this season)!”


Reach the reporter at jjcabre1@asu.edu or follow @justlittlejoy on Twitter. 

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