It was UGA’s diversity that drew Sarah Caesar to campus, and the future physician assistant is “super thrilled to be able to tie my passion for the sciences and people in hopes of making an impact in my community.”
North Cobb High School
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
As a first-generation migrant to the U.S, I understand my parents had to sacrifice a lot when making the decision to venture out into this new world, where they envisioned opportunities abound and a bright future for their children. Ever since I first moved to the U.S. at the ripe age of 9, my parents had made it very clear that they would ensure both my sister and I received an excellent education. To them, nothing was more important than fostering learning and curiosity in their children, because they understood that people, especially women, couldn’t be truly empowered when deprived of a solid education. So, when it came time to decide what college I wanted to attend, the decision was not a difficult one—UGA was instantly appealing to me due its vast resources and extremely friendly environment.
Prior to the start of college, I, like many incoming freshmen, pondered hard about how long it would take me to acclimate to this new environment. One of the first things that struck me when I first learned about and visited UGA was its diversity, something I believe is a crucial factor that shows how inclusive and accepting a particular setting is. Having attended a Magnet Program for International Affairs in high school, I was somewhat of an anomaly for ultimately choosing to study the sciences in college. However, I found the transition less daunting than expected due to the immense faculty support I received at UGA. I was fortunate to enter college with a scholarship from the Indian American Scholarship Fund. Having been a writer and editor for UGA Pre-Med Magazine, since my freshman year, I have gained invaluable skills that have been incredibly useful.
During my time at UGA, I was also privileged to be able to work with Dr. Hui-Chin Hsu, who studied how maternal-mindedness influences theory of mind development in infants and toddlers In addition, as a research assistant in the Neuropsychology and Memory Assessment Lab, I learned about various modern techniques being utilized to assess and possibly alleviate cognitive decline in older adults. As a UGA Red Cross member, I have really enjoyed volunteering at numerous blood drives hosted by the organization.
During my time at UGA, I was also able to partake in quite a few mentoring programs, including Thomas Lay After School Program and LISTO Mentor/Mentee Program. Much to my surprise, mentoring other students enabled me to learn and grow a lot as a person, and I hope I can continue mentoring students in the future. During my final year at UGA, I was fortunate to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a prestigious honor society that aims to foster lifelong learning. When talking about college experiences, I would be remiss not to mention my family and friends who have stood by me through my best and worst times and have inspired me to work hard and continue fighting for my dreams.
I currently work as a CURO research assistant in the Neuropsych and Memory Assistant Lab.
Family Ties to UGA:
None. Both my sister and brother-in-law went to Georgia Tech, but I’m proud to be the first in my family to bleed red and black!
I chose to attend UGA because…
One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of America as a nation is E pluribus unum, the 13-letter Latin motto of the country that loosely translates to “out of many, one.” In many ways, I believe this same phrase symbolizes UGA as well. UGA, I believe, is quite representative of the U.S. population, a melting pot of different races, genders, religions, sects and languages. This was definitely one of the key aspects that made me fall in love with the campus almost immediately!
Having completed four years at the university now, I can say that interacting with people from all over the world has taught me to be a more empathetic person and to understand that everyone has their own story. The inclusive nature of the Athens community made me feel at home at once. One of the first things my mom said after our first visit to UGA was, “Wow, everyone’s so friendly here!” Having lived on campus for the past four years, I couldn’t agree more with her sentiment!
My favorite things to do on campus are…
I absolutely love going to the Niche, the dining hall located on the Health Sciences Campus, with my friends (a.k.a. my Bulldawg fam). The food at the Niche is amazing! I also enjoy going for a morning jog or run with a friend or grabbing my favorite burrito from Cali N Tito’s after a long day of classes/studying. In addition, sometimes I enjoy sitting outside Reed or Myers Quad on a serene day to read a book or spend time with friends.
When I have free time, I like…
… to run at Ramsey or the local park, read, visit my favorite professors to gain some words of wisdom, listen to music, cook/bake, and watch my favorite TV shows/movies.Also, ever since I first heard about “Humans of New York,” I’ve enjoyed reading the stories Brandon Stanton, founder of the page, uploads onto the site on an almost-daily basis. Stanton, who happens to be a UGA alum has inspired countless others to create similar pages to showcase people and their lives in numerous cities around the world. Stanton’s “Humans of New York” and these other pages aim to capture humanity and, in a way, unify the world through people’s stories. As of 2017, a page for almost every major city, such as Paris, Delhi, Beirut, exists.
By reading these stories, I feel like, in a way, I’ve been able to connect with people from different parts of the world. I know it’s practically impossible to travel to all these major cities in my lifetime, but knowing I can at least get a glimpse of the different people, cultures and lifestyles through social media sites like these puts me at ease.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
… visit 18 U.S. states in about two weeks with my wonderfully adventurous family. The summer before starting eighth grade, my family and I took a road trip and visited numerous landmarks and national parks in the country. A few of my favorite sites included Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and the Golden Gate Bridge.
My favorite place to study is…
… the Digital Media Lab on the third floor of the MLC or Reed Quad. I often study at MLC when I need to work on assignments by myself, but love group studying at the Quad or the Science Library.
My favorite professor is…
During my time here at UGA, I have been so fortunate to have had many wonderful professors and mentors who have encouraged me to push the boundaries and strive for more than mediocrity. Dr. Karl Espelie, my advisor, is one of those people who has tremendously helped me over the last four years. He has selflessly invested his time into advising students like me regarding college and post-baccalaureate plans. Dr. Stephen Miller, my research professor, is another person who gave me a lot of guidance incollege. I enjoyed working in Dr. Miller’s lab as a research assistant and carrying out my own research project. Finally, I was also incredibly lucky to have Dr. Elizabeth Ottesen as my microbiology professor and, eventually, mentor. She is so knowledgeable about the microbiota present in our world and sparked my interest in better understanding the role these microscopic creatures play in the human body.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… the people who’ve made a tremendous impact on my life — my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law and grandmothers. Throughout my life, my family has been an incredible source of support, laughter and encouragement, and I couldn’t have made it this far without their unconditional love. Each of them has shared many life stories that have helped me grow as a person. I’d love to have a dinner party with my five favorite people. Also, if I could invite a few other inspirational people as well, I’d pick Malala Yousafzai, J.K Rowling and Barack Obama, to name a few.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… ensure that equality, in all forms, becomes reality!
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… travel the world to better understand how I can serve those in need!
What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
My closest friends and family members will tell you that I have, on numerous occasions, randomly blurted out, “Ah, I just love people!” This is a genuine sentiment I have felt since I was a child — an extreme fondness of people and their lives. It breaks my heart to turn on the news to see the suffering endured by many, particularly children and other vulnerable people, around the world. I am truly blessed to live in a country that provides so many opportunities to hardworking people who want to make a positive impact on society. I hope to avail of the resources provided to me and, through hard work and dedication, aim to serve underprivileged people in my community.
After graduation, I plan to…
… work as a medical assistant in a local clinic and, eventually, attend physician associate school to become a PA. My numerous shadowing and volunteering experiences at hospitals have given me great insight into the health care field and I’m super thrilled to be able to tie my passion for the sciences and people in hopes of making an impact in my community.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
Attending my first football game during freshman year of college. It was the first time I’d ever been to a football game since moving to America and it was so exciting! The Dawgs were playing the Kentucky Wildcats and we beat them 59-17. While this was one of the earliest memories I made at UGA, I have made many others that I will cherish forever. All in all, I look back at my time at UGA with so much happiness, because I don’t think any other school could’ve prepared me better to face the challenges I’ll encounter in the real world!