Amazing Students

Cameron Liss

Photo of Cameron Liss
Cameron Liss (Photos by Chad Osburn/UGA)

Cameron Liss grew up with a family of Bulldogs, and she has found that her decision to attend UGA was one of the best in her life. She has taken advantage of the many opportunities that UGA provides and has paved a solid path to her future as a physician.

Atlanta, GA

High school: 
St. Pius X Catholic High School

Family ties to UGA: 
I grew up in a family of Bulldogs. Both of my parents attended UGA during the Herschel Walker era, so my whole family has a deep passion for the Dawgs. Additionally, there are several UGA alumni in my large extended family. I have also had the joy of attending UGA with two of my close cousins. I have a feeling the rest of my family will also follow and become Dawgs!

Expected graduation: 
Spring 2020

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

Other degrees: 
Spanish minor

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships: 
Attending the University of Georgia in the first place is probably my biggest achievement. Being able to say that I am a student here is an honor in and of itself, and I truly could not imagine myself anywhere else. That being said, everything I have accomplished in college so far is largely due to the people who support me daily. My parents have stood by my side through everything and have raised me to believe that anything is possible. The people at UGA are friends for life, and I could not thank them enough for supporting me through my stresses over everything from the MCAT to the Spanish quiz that I “failed.”

One of my biggest highlights has been volunteering at Mercy Health Center. The summer after my freshman year, I decided to stay in Athens to take on the beast … Organic Chemistry. I met with my advisor, professor Karl Espelie, and I expressed that I wanted to do something more meaningful with my summer of studying. He recommended I apply to volunteer at Mercy Health Center. Mercy is a Christian health clinic that provides free health care to low-income and uninsured patients in the Athens area. I am grateful for this connection and this clinic because my experiences at Mercy have confirmed my decision to go to medical school. At Mercy, I have served in a variety of roles where I have had genuine interactions with patients, many of whom are solely Spanish-speaking.

I am honored to have been selected to serve as clinic manager where I handle a variety of tasks, which include leading team meetings, assisting medical providers and also sweeping the floors at the end of the night. As a clinic manager, I have learned how to serve as a leader, especially in a health care environment. I have led some incredible health professionals and generous students along the way. Interacting with these patients and hearing about their hardships and stories have helped motivate me in my track to becoming a physician.

Another one of my favorite highlights at UGA has been working in professor Kevin McCully’s Non-Invasive Exercise Muscle Physiology Lab. In his lab, we study the endurance and mitochondrial capacities of different muscles. The goal of this lab is to improve muscular function and health of clinical populations. During my time in lab, I have had the opportunity to take on my own project. I presented at the CURO Research Symposium and traveled with the rest of the lab to Greenville, South Carolina, for the Southeast Conference of the American College of Sports Medicine. This past summer, I also received the CURO Summer Assistantship, studying the endurance of different muscles in the neck. I am grateful for everything I have learned and all the researchers and students I have met, many who have become dear friends.

Upon entering college, one of the most common pieces of advice I was told was “you have to study abroad,” and I am thankful that I listened. The summer after my sophomore year, I took advantage of one of UGA’s many study abroad programs and traveled to Cádiz, Spain. I attended Spanish classes at a local university and was fully immersed in the Spanish culture as I lived with a traditional Spanish host family. Not only was I able to engage myself in a foreign culture, but I was able to immerse myself in the language I have been studying for years. Outside of the classroom, we were able to explore the Spanish culture and were even able to travel around and explore different parts of Western Europe and Africa!

Over my sophomore year spring break, I traveled with a group of students and volunteers to Antigua, Guatemala, for a medical mission trip. I had done mission trips in high school, and I wanted to continue this work in college. In Guatemala, I lived with a traditional host family and volunteered in a local free clinic. While communicating solely in Spanish, I triaged patients, helped organize the pharmacy, and shadowed a variety of physicians. In addition, I was working on a hygiene project where we taught the children in the clinic how to wash their hands and face and brush their teeth. I am fortunate enough to have learned so much about another culture and health care system.

In college, I have also volunteered at Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital. I have served as an active member of UGA’s MedLife, and I am a member of the Health Preprofessional Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta. Last year, I was selected as a Gamma Chi recruitment counselor, and I currently serve on the executive board as the director of standards and ethics for the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

Again, I am so blessed to have had all these incredible opportunities at this university. None of this would have been possible without the Zell B. Miller Scholarship. In addition, the people I have met and the experiences I have had shaped me into the person I am today, and hopefully will continue to mold me into a more fulfilled individual in my future.

I chose to attend UGA because … 
Ever since I can remember, I have spent my fall weekends in Athens. I always said I wanted to go to UGA, but it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I took a real look at the university. I toured the campus on a UGA bus on a rainy day in the spring and was so impressed with all that UGA has to offer. After learning about all the deep UGA traditions, groundbreaking research taking place on campus, and trying the East Campus dining hall, I was sold on UGA.

My high school, St. Pius X, was a family to me, and I wanted to find something like that in a university. UGA challenges its students in a comfortable environment. At such a large public university, I am thankful for all the resources that are available that truly make me feel like an individual. The faculty and students are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. There is a genuine understanding that students are here to help each other learn and grow as we all take on college together. I don’t think you can find this sense of unity at many other large universities.

The feeling of comfort and excitement you get on this campus cannot be matched. Maybe that feeling stems from those jitters I would get walking around the heart of campus on a game day when I was 6 years old, but I know other students feel it too.

My favorite things to do on campus are … 
When I’m not studying in the Science Library, I enjoy attending UGA sporting events with my close friends. GymDawgs meets and basketball games are a personal favorite. Also, in the fall you can catch me in the stands in Sanford Stadium cheering on the Dawgs. I have yet to miss a home game as a student and try my best to make it to the away games with my friends and family.

When I walk home from classes, I often try to take the long way home, whether that be passing through North Campus, or taking a pit stop at the Creamery on South Campus. After a late night of studying at the Sci Li, my friend Paulina and I often enjoy making a 2am drive by Sanford stadium. There is something about seeing the lights lit up at Sanford that make late night studying a little more bearable.

When I have free time, I like … 
Now that it’s my senior year, my roommates and I have created an Athens bucket list. This is a list of everything we need to do before graduating and includes things like checking out the Athens Farmers Market, catching a movie at Tate theatre, late night dining at Snelling, and the list goes on. So in my free time, I enjoy spending time with my roommates and checking things off the list.

I also enjoy calling and catching up with friends and family! My friends can agree that I’m a big fan of Facetime. Even though it is over the camera, there is something about that face-to-face interaction that makes calling my friends across the country feel more personal.

To stay active, I enjoy going on runs, especially if I can convince a friend to come with me. The intramural fields around Lake Herrick is a personal favorite spot to run. I actually just signed up for the AthHalf and convinced my parents, who are both active runners, to do it with me!

And of course, I have to mention the Athens food scene. From an omelet at the Grit, to Taq queso, to Trapeze fries, or a burger from World Famous, you really will never regret eating out in Athens. Grabbing some friends and checking out a new restaurant is always an adventure.

Photo of Cameron LissThe craziest thing I’ve done is … 
… ride a camel on the beach of Morocco! I have a weird fear of animals, especially animals that are bigger than me. When I was on my study abroad trip to Spain, we traveled to Morocco and were presented with the opportunity to ride camels. Reluctantly, I accepted, thinking it was going to be a nice stroll down the beach with my friends where I would get some cool pics. But no, these camels were SPRINTING down the beach, and I was hanging on for dear life. Needless to say, it was fun and a once in a lifetime experience that I don’t need to do again.

My favorite place to study is … 
My favorite study spot has changed over the years. Freshman year it was definitely the Creswell study room. Since my sophomore year, I have logged way too many hours in the Sci Li. Grabbing a cup of Jittery Joe’s coffee and heading up to the fourth floor is my usual routine. (Yes, I’m one of those crazy people who needs to study on the silent floors.)
Recently I have been hiking it up to North Campus to study in the new Business Learning Community. It’s fun to pretend I’m a Terry major sometimes and surprise all my friends who I don’t usually see on the south side of campus.

My favorite professor is … 
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to have met so many great professors and faculty members, and I could not go on without mentioning a few.

I would not be here talking about my experiences at UGA if it weren’t for professor Karl Espelie. He has gotten many shout-outs on these pages for very compelling reasons. Not many professors can get their students to throw them their own birthday party at Cali N’ Titos, but Dr. Espelie’s genuine care for his students makes him easy to celebrate. I cannot thank him enough for letting me take his Honors biology seminar, introducing me to Mercy, and advising me ever since I came in as a little scared freshman.

I also would like to acknowledgeprofessor Kevin McCully. He is the principal investigator in the Exercise Physiology Lab. He has a passion for mentoring and pushing his students to think and reason in different ways. Instead of the typical lecture teaching style, I have learned so much from one-on-one interaction with him in the lab whether it be from caring for a participant/patient or collecting data. Not many labs can say they take in as many undergrads as he does, and many of them have become my dear friends who I am very grateful for. He pushes his students to make the most of their time in lab whether it be through collecting data or talking about recent medical research.

My genetics professor, Mary Bedell, has a big heart for her students. Her passion and interest in the subject are evident in her lectures, and I believe her interest sparks attention in her students. I have also taken multiple courses by professor Billy Hammond in the psychology department. His courses were so interesting about the relationship between health and psychology. He is one of those special teachers who can lecture for 75 minutes without losing the attention of his students.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with …
… my grandmother, Pippie! She currently has dementia, and I would love to go back to meet with her about five years ago and spend time with her. She has always had this spunk and wit to her that would always brighten my day. She raised my mom and her four other siblings, so to say she has a huge heart and unmatched patience would be an understatement. She’s one of the kindest and funniest women I have ever met who would always leave my sisters and me with sore stomachs from laughing. I would do anything to have her pick me up from school one more time and take my sisters and me for ice cream. Pippie has taught me so much about my faith and my relationship with God. I would love to learn more about her life growing up and what her true passions were.

If I knew I could not fail, I would … 
Although traveling the world is my dream, if I knew I could not fail, I would love to travel to space! Ever since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated by outer space. We know that the world is small, but how cool would it be to see it for yourself?! However, I guess, before I get there, I would have to get over my fear of heights.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to … 
… travel the world providing health care in other countries. Through my experiences abroad, especially in Guatemala, I saw firsthand the effects that health care systems have on different cultures. There is a huge lack of health education throughout the world, and I would love to contribute to improving this. One of the reasons I chose to minor in Spanish was to connect with people around the world, and I would love to continue working in a Spanish-speaking country one day. I would not only get to help those who need health care the most, but I would get to travel the world and fulfill my dream of making the world a better place.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it? 
My passion is finding the answers to questions that could help improve the lives of others. I believe that becoming a physician is the perfect way to accomplish this. With my curiosity, I am always asking questions, and I am constantly working to find the answers. As a physician, I can serve and impact others lives while simultaneously improving and fulfilling my own. Through volunteering at Mercy, I have seen the significant impact people have when they come together with the same goal to improve the lives of others. Over the past three years, I have seen patients come back time and time again with a better outlook on life, and I can’t help but give part of the credit for their improvements to Mercy.

After graduation, I plan to … 
… attend medical school and one day become a practicing physician! If you know me, you would know I can be a bit indecisive, so my goal for a specialty changes about each week between pediatrics, OB-GYN, emergency medicine and others. I hope one day I can look back and see that all these late nights and time spent in the library will have been well worth it. I look forward to seeing what my future holds and hope it involves improving the lives of others and fulfilling my own dreams.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be … 
This is a tough one because my time at UGA has been filled with so many incredible experiences, but I think any student who was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, can agree that that was the greatest UGA experience ever. Thinking about when Lorenzo Carter blocked Oklahoma’s field goal attempt still gives me chills. And oh yes, tears started flowing once Sony scored to win the game in the second overtime. I remember running to my parents in the stadium in tears just thanking them for sending me to my dream school.