Amazing Students

Madison Read

Madison Read talks with friends outside of Miller Learning Center on a beautiful fall day on campus. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Madison Read’s passion is serving as an advocate to people as a doctor, helping them realize their full potential to take control of their health. Her time at UGA has taken her around the globe, including a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro.

Knoxville, TN

High school:
Webb School of Knoxville

Current employment:
Student assistant at the Ashford Center

Family ties to UGA:
My brother, John, and I both attend UGA! I am a triplet, so we decided to go to UGA at the same time. We are the first ones in our family to be Dawg fans, but the rest of our family has quickly come to love Athens and UGA as much as we do. I am confident that John and I will keep the UGA tradition going in our family for years to come!

Expected graduation:
Spring 2020

Degree objective:
Biology (B.S.) and Psychology (B.S.)

Other degrees:
Spanish minor

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
First, I would like to thank each person who has been an encourager, teacher, friend and mentor to me during my time at UGA. This university is truly unparalleled to any other due to the welcoming and supportive culture of the faculty and student body. From the moment I stepped onto campus, I knew I had a whole team of people cheering me on and that has made the biggest impact on the experiences I have pursued. As a current senior, it is incredible to look back and see the Lord’s faithfulness in knitting my story together with so many stories here.

During my freshman year, an older friend invited me to a CURE body meeting, and I fell in love with the mission of the organization. CURE at UGA is a campus organization that sponsors a hospital overseas through CURE International, a nonprofit that provides care for children in underdeveloped countries with treatable conditions such as hydrocephalus and clubfoot. Many of the children that come to the CURE hospitals have physical disabilities that cause them to be stigmatized and cast out of their communities—a heartbreaking reality. However, when they come to the CURE hospital, they not only receive medical treatment for their condition, but they are also reminded of the hope of the Gospel and that they are loved and valued despite their condition. Having the opportunity to partake in this mission alongside some of the best humans has been one of my biggest highlights. During my sophomore year, I served on the CURE Executive Board as director of CURE relations, and I transitioned to director of members during my junior year. Currently, I am honored to serve as the executive director. Getting to plan fundraising events and raise awareness about the stories of our CURE kids has been one of the greatest joys during my time at UGA.

After becoming involved with CURE on UGA’s campus, it was a dream of mine to visit one of the CURE hospitals and meet some of the CURE kids we support. This dream became a reality this past summer through the Honors International Scholars Program. My summer began at the AIC CURE International Hospital in Kijabe, Kenya, where I was able to shadow surgeries, interact with the patients and their families in the hospital wards, and accompany hospital staff on a patient home visit. I was absolutely blown away by the hospital outreach efforts and holistic approach to care that they take.

After my time in Kenya, I flew to Ghana where I participated in the UGA FACS Ghana Service-Learning Program alongside 12 other students and our fearless leader, Dr. Anderson. The small program size helped our group become incredibly close-knit, and I am so thankful for the friendships formed on the program. During our time in Ghana, we traveled to various communities, performed health screenings, and assisted Dr. Anderson with nutrition counseling. We also were also able to shadow local physicians at Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital and the Greater Accra Regional Ridge Hospital during which I learned a great deal about the challenges that developing countries face in regards to health care. I am forever indebted to my time in Ghana for opening my eyes to the importance of preventive health care and instilling in me a newfound passion for nutrition education and global health.

Another noteworthy time I spent abroad was during the summer after my freshman year when I served as a Sozo Children summer intern for two months in Uganda. Sozo Children is an organization that seeks to equip and empower Ugandans with the necessary resources to positively transform their communities. The internship had two major components: community outreach in the local village and service in the children’s home. During biweekly visits to a local village, we put on an after-school kid’s club, aided women in the village with jewelry-making to provide income to their families, and were paired with a local family for the summer, serving as an extra set of hands. That summer reminded me of the importance of pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones and the incredible relationships that can come out of that vulnerability.

During the summer of 2018, I served as an undergraduate research assistant in an Exercise Muscle Physiology Laboratory. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jenkins and his graduate student, Melissa Mcgranahan, I conducted a CURO research project, studying the intersection between mental health, vascular function and exercise. I enjoyed the clinical nature of the research and exploring how our mental health affects our physiological function.

I also currently work as a student assistant at The Ashford Center, a gynecological practice that specializes in endometrial ablations. Dr. Ashford takes a holistic and patient-centered approach with his patients, taking the time to listen to them and consider all potential problems. I have learned a great deal from the high standard of care that he models. Getting to observe Dr. Ashford during surgeries as well as work with other members of his team has helped fuel my many hours spent studying as a tangible reminder of the vessel that medicine is to step into people’s stories.

Additionally, I have had the privilege of being a Phi Beta Kappa member, Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Medical Honor Society member, Biochemistry Peer Learning Assistant, tutor at Oasis Católico Santa Rafaela, and Piedmont Athens Regional Community Care Clinic volunteer. My college experience has also been enriched by my time as a Gamma Chi recruitment counselor and as a member of Chi Omega, where I currently serve as the chaplain for our chapter.

Lastly, the biggest highlight of my time here was the chance to meet so many other inspiring and uplifting students who have shaped me into the person I am today. I am forever grateful, and none of the above experiences would be possible without them.

I chose to attend UGA because …
… of the sense of community I felt from the moment I stepped on campus. I remember going on my first tour at UGA, and my tour guide giving us this advice: “choose the school that you could see yourself becoming the best version of yourself over the next four years.” UGA kept popping into my mind every time I thought about that question. I also have vivid memories of students stopping to say hey to me on campus during my first tour and being blown away by the friendly and spirited nature of the student body. Furthermore, the chance to have a smaller community amongst the larger UGA student population through the Honors Program strongly appealed to me. I knew that UGA would provide me with the resources to excel academically and personally, and I can confidently say that choosing to be a Bulldog is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My favorite things to do on campus are …
Some of my favorite moments during the day are running into friends on campus and catching up between classes or in breaks in my schedule. Whether it be Starbucks in Tate or at the top of Ag Hill, it is a day maker running into familiar faces. I also love strolling through campus and enjoying how beautiful it is, especially on fall days when the leaves are changing and it is not too hot!

When I have free time, I like …
… to spend it with the people that mean the most to me. With the busyness that often surrounds the culture of college, I have realized that time is extremely precious. There are so many amazing people here to learn and grow from, so it is always a treat getting to spend free time with them. One of my roommates is also a huge foodie, so I enjoy diving into the amazing Athens food scene and exploring all the hidden gems that are unique to this city.

The craziest thing I’ve done is …
… summit Mount Kilimanjaro! This was truly a bucket list day. We woke up around 11 p.m. and hiked throughout the whole night from the summit base camp. We arrived at Uhuru Peak (19,341 feet up!!!) right at sunrise, and it was one of the most stunning views I have ever seen. Developing friendships with our local mountain guides and learning some Swahili words along trail made it an even more rewarding experience. It was definitely one of the most challenging and physically demanding experiences, but I cannot help but smile looking back on all the stories that came from the adventure.

My favorite place to study is …
I have several favorite study spots because I like to mix it up, but the third floor reading room in the Main Library is one of my favorites. The long tables and view of North Campus provide a peaceful and productive environment even during the most stressful test weeks. During MCAT season, I clocked in a good bit of hours on the third floor of the Science Library. My favorite off-campus study spot is the lobby of the Graduate Athens hotel. The coffee shop has great chai tea lattes, and the staff at the hotel is always so kind to students!

Undergraduate Madison Read poses for a portrait outside of the Miller Learning Center on a beautiful fall day on campus.

Madison Read (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

My favorite professor is …
I have had countless amazing professors during my time at UGA, but a few stand out to me due to their unmatched dedication to helping students pursue their dreams.

The first is Karl Espelie, who has served as amazing mentor to me during my time at UGA. I remember being a nervous freshman pre-med student trying to figure out which classes to take and what opportunities to pursue, and Dr. Espelie kindly took me under his wing. His Honors Seminar opened my eyes to countless opportunities on UGA’s campus and in the Athens community. From answering my phone calls about questions on my medical school application to golden bowls at the Grit, he goes above and beyond to help his students pave a path for success. I think we often underestimate the power that having a single individual believing in us can have, but we should not. Thank you Dr. Espelie for believing in me.

Paula Lemons and Sarah Robinson are two other professors that have inspired me during my time at UGA. Serving as biochemistry peer learning assistant under Dr. Robinson, I saw day in and day out the dedication that she has to her students. She cares that her students learn the material well and does this through an interactive, case-based learning setting. Dr. Lemons also amazes me with her commitment to helping her students excel both personally and academically. I met her through the Science and Faith Book Discussion group that she leads. Seeing the confident woman of faith and passionate scientist that Dr. Lemons is has impacted me greatly.

Lastly, I am also grateful for Elizabeth Hughes. She has served as an invaluable resource to me for countless occasions during my time at UGA. From critiquing my resume to practicing medical school interview questions with me, it is evident that she deeply cares about preparing students well for their future endeavors. I would not have felt as confident in my final medical school application submission without her guidance.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with …
Every time I read a book by Tim Keller, I am amazed by his wisdom and ability to navigate challenging topics in a humble and confident way. I would love to pick his brain for an afternoon and hear more about his life story and what led him to become such an inspirational faith figure.

If I knew I could not fail, I would …
… solve the nutrition paradox that is prevalent in today’s society. From my experiences serving locally and globally, I have seen the heartbreaking effects that both undernutrition and overnutrition can have on families. I will never forget shadowing dieticians in the malnutrition ward at PML Children’s Hospital in Ghana. The hospital was the place of discovery for “kwashiorkor,” which is severe protein deficiency, and it specializes in cases of malnutrition. I was blown away by the extensive nutrition rehabilitation programs to get patients back to their healthy and happy states. I gained new insight into how important good nutrition is for proper growth and development and how important it is to take a holistic approach to care when treating patients. On the other end of the spectrum, overnutrition can lead to increased rates of diabetes and hypertension, which can slow healing and lead to poor health outcomes. Because there are many factors that play a role in ensuring that patients receive proper nutrition, it is a deeply rooted and challenging issue to tackle; but one, if solved, would be revolutionary for improving the care and quality of life of so many patients.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to …
My adventures in Africa this past summer reminded me of the vastness of our world and beauty of exploring other cultures and places. I would love to travel and check some other places off my bucket list! I currently have a strong desire to visit the Patagonia region, some of the national parks out West, and Australia and New Zealand. I have heard those are some of the most stunning places in the world.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
My passion is serving as an advocate and encourager to people, helping them realize their full potential. There is great power in helping people recognize their strengths and equipping them with the courage to utilize them for the betterment of others. I believe medicine is an incredible vessel to pursue this passion because it provides the opportunity to inspire people to want take control of their health. Furthermore, having the chance to step into vulnerable moments with people and play a small role in their restoration process is something that excites me as I plan for the next chapter in my life.

I also hope to one day have the necessary medical skills to serve both locally and globally. I love learning new languages, and I hope to use my knowledge of Spanish to bridge the language barrier gap and serve Spanish-speaking patients one day. Furthermore, my time serving internationally has given me a passion for pursuing medical opportunities abroad, and I would love to help bring scientific knowledge, medical training and the hope of the Gospel to future communities I serve in.

After graduation, I plan to …
… attend medical school and learn the necessary information and skills to best serve patients one day! I hope to become a physician who both implements effective treatment plans and listens intently to the stories of my patients, building relationships and ultimately creating bonds of trust and mutual respect.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
I will never forget being in Sanford Stadium as the new red stadium lights came on during the Notre Dame game. There was an electric energy in the air that gave me chill bumps. Everyone around me in the student section was overwhelmed with excitement and pride that we attend the best school in the nation. There is something so special about being in Sanford surrounded by all your best friends!!

(Originally published Nov. 3, 2019)