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Amazing student: Emily Austin

Alan Flurry

The senior psychology major/biology minor from Douglasville is working toward fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a physician and bringing creativity and innovation to health care delivery:

My sophomore year, I was selected to represent UGA as an Orientation leader, welcoming over 5,000 new students to the university alongside 14 incredible student leaders I now consider family. Orientation was an electrifying environment — many highlights of that summer involve creating and performing skits on stage, staying up way too late laughing with my teammates in our hallway in Creswell, and squeezing every ounce of extraversion I had within me to sing or stand in front of 25-30 students every session trying to make them laugh. However, my most valued memories serving as an “OL” are held in the less “glamorous” moments; instead, in those conversations reminding me not every student entering college is eager and hopeful, as certainty and comfort are often left behind at home. Each session, I sought out at least one student who seemed fearful and tried to connect on a deeper level, no matter how different they seemed to be from me. These moments — where I was able to meet someone who was hurting or scared and witness their apprehension become supplanted by sighs of relief — are memories I will cherish forever.

Thanks to the Honors International Scholars Program, I was able to spend the majority of the following summer in Africa, where UGA provided one of my most challenging learning environments through the Ghana Service-Learning Program. During the five-week program, our team traveled throughout the country to conduct mobile clinics, providing health screenings and nutrition education to hundreds of Ghanaians. My experience in these clinics was dynamic and diverse: Experiences ranged from taking the blood pressure of an 80-year-old rural individual who spoke no English to testing the hemoglobin levels of a 5-year-old inner-city child wearing a school uniform and speaking perfect English. No matter who they were or where they came from, they welcomed us into their communities with sincere hospitality and deep gratitude. While in Ghana, I realized I am attracted to medicine because it is practiced in virtually every culture of the world. It should benefit people from every race, nationality, religion and socioeconomic position. I returned to the States with a fueled desire to pursue overseas medical mission work and an interest in learning more about challenges facing other cultures. 

A stellar UGA experience that will serve her well. Congratulations, Emily, and best of luck in all of your opportunities.

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