Senior Afua Asante is looking for a cure for a rare cancer that afflicts children. She began studying rhabdomyosarcoma last summer during the National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program. As a participant in this program, Asante receives financial support for school, two paid 10-week summer internships at the NIH, and a two year fellowship after graduation from UGA or from medical school. She has also received awards for research she did on acute myeloid leukemia at Washington University School of Medicine. She works as a desk assistant in the Hill Community and enjoys working out at the Ramsey Center. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school to specialize in pediatric medicine and become a general practitioner in metro-Atlanta.
Collins Hill High School
B.S. in biology
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
The Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation has helped me become a part of the research world. In Sept. 2007, I attended the second annual Fall 2007 National Symposium and Research Conference, which was hosted by the University of Georgia. I placed third in the Life Sciences Oral Presentation Section. I presented research that I did on acute myeloid leukemia at Washington University School of Medicine, and I was featured in the Spring 2008 Diversity at UGA newsletter. I then took this presentation to the Florida-Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation 15th annual Expo Conference in Gainesville, Fla. in March 2008. There, I placed second in the Life Sciences Oral Presentation Section. More recently, I received the Outstanding Academic Performance Award in Spring 2009 and the Outstanding Participant Award in Fall 2008. In July 2008, I was selected to be a part of the National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program. I receive financial support for school and participate in a paid 10-week research experience for two summers at the NIH. I also receive two years of paid employment and training after I graduate from UGA. I can serve this obligation during medical school or after my residency in the form of a fellowship. I just finished my first summer by doing research to help combat rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a malignant soft tissue tumor found most often in children.
I am a desk assistant in the Hill Community. Desk Assistants manage the operations of the community desk and serve as the primary customer service representative for the residents. My responsibilities include monitoring resident entry into the building, verifying residency, checking out keys, answering the phone, and recording incidents in the logbook. I also distribute mail to residents.
Family Ties to UGA:
Both of my parents emigrated from Ghana in the early 1980s. Therefore my brothers and I are the first in our family to be born and raised in America. I am the first Georgia Bulldog in my family and hopefully not the last!
I chose to attend UGA because…
…of all the opportunities that are available here. I knew that I was planning to go to medical school, and I knew UGA would give me the best preparation. When I first moved to Georgia in 10th grade I did not know much about UGA, but that year I came to Athens for the Homecoming game, and I instantly fell in love with the university and the town. I have met so many influential and motivational people in the past three years, and I don’t think I could have been this happy at any other institution.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
…attending football games and going to the Ramsey Center for Physical Activities. Gamedays are always so exciting, and I love meeting up with old friends. There is just something about college football that gets everyone in a good mood. I also really enjoy getting a good workout, and the Ramsey Center has far exceeded my needs. The new strength and conditioning room provides state-of-the-art equipment, so I can watch music videos while I run on the treadmill.
When I have free time, I like…
…to watch movies and hang out with my friends. We all have such busy lives, so it is nice to be able to go to the Tate Theater and see a movie for $1. Living in East Campus Village also makes it easy to have friends over because of the spacious living room and the 24 hr Movie Vault. We always look forward to Dawgs After Dark because of the free food and fun activities too.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
…have bone marrow extracted from my hip for research purposes. During the summer after my sophomore year, I did cancer research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The doctor I did research for asked for healthy volunteers to donate bone marrow so we could see if prolonged freezing had an effect on the quality of the sample. I signed up, and it only took about 20 minutes. Although my hip hurt for a few days, I was proud to say that I contributed to expanding the frontiers of science and medicine.
My favorite place to study is…
…the Miller Learning Center. I have been studying there since freshman year because there is something about that place that enables me to get much more work done than if I stay in my room. The environment is friendly and specific areas are designated “Quiet Areas” so you are ensured of finding a quiet place to study when it is needed.
My favorite professor is…
…Karl Espelie. I had him for entomology, and I took his Honors Biology Seminar. His witty sense of humor always keeps me laughing. He has also become a mentor. I can always ask for his advice about pre-med classes or for his suggestions about which medical school I should consider. This past summer, I did research at the National Institutes of Health, and he traveled to Bethesda, Maryland to attend my poster presentation and closing ceremony.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
…my great-grandmother. She is 105 years old and has lived in Ghana her whole life. I would love to hear stories of when she was growing up and how things have changed over the years. I would also like to know what her secret is to living a long and healthy life.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
…win a Nobel Peace Prize. It has been a dream of mine since high school to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It takes years of dedication and perseverance, but it is fitting recognition for people who have contributed so much toward more harmonious relations in the world. I would like to make that kind of contribution to the world.
After graduation, I plan to…
…spend another summer at the National Institutes of Health. I will continue the research I did last summer on Rhabdomyosarcoma. After that I will either go to medical school in the fall or stay at the National Institutes of Health for a year or two before starting medical school. I plan on doing a residency in pediatrics and becoming a primary care physician somewhere in the metro-Atlanta area.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
…becoming friends with the people in my freshman residence hall (Lipscomb). Every year the Black Affairs Council hosts a Unity Ball, which is a formal event for all organizations to come together and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. This was only the beginning of a long-lasting friendship with the people in Lipscomb. Three years later, we still get together at the beginning of every semester and at football games, birthdays and Halloween.