Amazing Students Profiles

Stephen Dorner

Stephen Dorner

Senior Stephen Dorner has a passion for improving health. Some study-abroad and international service learning projects opened his eyes to the socioeconomic determinants of health and the importance of incorporating public health and development practice into overcoming burdens on health. When he returned to the U.S. after those experiences, he founded UGA Without Borders, a student organization that advocates active involvement in the global community and comprehensive solutions to the challenges of development. He has also worked as an intern in the Washington, D.C. office of Congressman Hank Johnson with the Honors in Washington Program. In this role, Dorner helped write legislation to direct much-needed attention toward neglected parasitic diseases that disproportionately affect minority and impoverished communities around the world. He continues to work with various student groups including being the executive director of Volunteer UGA. After graduation, he plans to pursue graduate degrees in medicine, public health and economic development.


Alpharetta, Ga.

High School:

Chattahoochee High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in Microbiology and B.S.E.H. in Environmental Health

Expected graduation:

Spring 2010

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

In the summer of 2008, as an Honors International Scholar, I spent two weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with 15 other UGA students working in health clinics to provide much-needed medical care to the local communities. A day after returning to the States, I traveled to Santiago de Chuco, Peru, with Luke Naeher. For three months, we studied the efficacy of the Peruvian government’s stove intervention program. My research specifically concerned the health effects associated with exposure to smoke from wood-burning stoves, and a paper is pending publication.
I returned to Athens with renewed vigor and founded UGA Without Borders. Last summer, nearly 50 UGA Without Borders students traveled abroad to volunteer in Tanzania, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. In the spring of 2009, I worked in Mary Alice Smith’s lab conducting research through CURO on the low-dose response of pregnant guinea pigs to Listeria monocytogenes, a foodborne pathogen that causes stillbirths and spontaneous abortions in humans. Our research provided valuable answers to questions concerning food safety policy. With a new appreciation for the role of policy in health, I spent the summer of 2009 as an intern in the Washington, D.C. office of Congressman Hank Johnson with the Honors in Washington Program. I worked to write legislation to direct much-needed attention to neglected parasitic diseases that disproportionately affect minority and impoverished communities around the world. Continuing my effort to improve the baseline of health for the global community, I am working with UGA Without Borders and UGA to host the Millennium Speaker Series, an interactive dialogue with speakers in the fields of health, education, economics and policy to address the challenges of development and the role that students can play in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. I am also the executive director of Volunteer UGA, the chair of the Tate Student Center Advisory Board, a Crane Leadership Scholar and a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta and Epsilon Nu Eta honor societies. I am a finalist for the George J. Mitchell Scholarship (essentially it’s the Irish equivalent of the Rhodes scholarship) as well. I’m hoping to study Global Health at Trinity College in Dublin.

Current Employment:

I work as a visitor information assistant in the emergency room of Athens Regional Medical Center. In this role, I provide assistance to patients and their families who come to the emergency room.

Family Ties to UGA:

Several of my uncles, aunts, and cousins are fellow Bulldogs. My younger sister will soon enroll at UGA as well!

I chose to attend UGA because…

…of the Honors Program. When discerning which school was best for me, the scholarship, mentorship and research opportunities afforded by the Honors Program weighed heavily on my decision. In addition to the many opportunities it provides, the Honors Program serves as a smaller community to call home, through which I have developed close relationships with faculty, staff and fellow students across campus.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…grabbing a cup of coffee at Jittery Joe’s in the MLC between classes. Those five minutes between me and my cup o’ joe are a welcome reprieve from a busy day.

When I have free time, I like…

…to turn off my phone, take a good book to Two Story Coffeehouse and lose track of time completely. I also recommend running the trails at Lake Herrick – especially at dusk. There’s often a great breeze coming off of the lake and there are few better ways to finish your day than sitting on the banks after a run and watching the sunset.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…fly through a Nicaraguan rainforest like Superman. The Mombacho Volcano outside of Managua, Nicaragua is home to the Mombacho Cloudforest Reserve. A zip-line through the trees takes you on an hour and a half flight through the beautiful canopy. If you go, ask the guys staffing the zip-line to rig your harness so you can fly like Superman! It’s amazing!

My favorite place to study is…

…Georgia Hall in the Tate Student Center. As part of the renovation and expansion project, Georgia Hall was transformed into a two story hub for student activities. The space houses the offices of groups like Volunteer UGA, the Student Government Association, the Center for Leadership and Service and the Center for Student Organizations. It also provides cubicles and workspace for more than 30 student organizations. Georgia Hall is the powerhouse of student drive and productivity on campus, providing the perfect environment to get things done.

My favorite professor is…

Luke Naeher has played the most significant role in my development. Our relationship began through pure happenstance. He became my replacement professor for a class freshman year, and he has been guiding me ever since. He sparked my interest in the health effects of air quality and took me to Peru as the sole undergraduate on his team, opening my eyes to public health and the world. He is an incredible professor, role model and friend, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from him and other outstanding professors like him while attending the University of Georgia.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

…my nieces and nephew. Isabella, Noah and Lillianna are three of my favorite people. Children have an incredible way of reminding you what’s important in life and keeping your feet firm on the ground. They are my motivation as I work to protect their health and well being, my conscience as I strive to be a good role model and my inspiration as I feed off of their constant joy and energy. As adults, we have an incredible responsibility to impart the knowledge we learn both in and out of the classroom to future generations so that they, too, may become active members of the global community. An afternoon with my nieces and nephew—whether playing princess, cars or reading a book—is always an afternoon well spent.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…overcome all obstacles worldwide impeding the achievement of better health. Education, economics, security, and democracy depend upon a healthy society. Similarly, in this increasingly interconnected and shrinking world, the stability of one nation relies upon the health of another. It is in the interest of global security that we cooperate to address the challenges affecting health and improve the well being of the global community.

After graduation, I plan to…

…pursue degrees in public health, development and medicine. After finishing school at the approximate age of 80, I hope to integrate public health with development practice and policy to overcome physical and socioeconomic burdens and elevate the baseline of health around the world.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…the UGA football game against Auburn in 2007, better known as the Auburn Blackout. Sanford Stadium was alive. The bulldogs won 45-20 in an incredible game that epitomized the spirit of Georgia football. Nearly the entire community rallied, donning their black apparel in support of the Dawgs. It will always remember Saturdays in Athens. Go Dawgs!