Amazing Students Profiles

Hillary Liken

Hillary Liken

Hillary Liken, who grew up in Athens, has found a wealth of opportunity at UGA. The pre-med student has studied abroad, worked in the exercise vascular biology lab and with the legal affairs office, and volunteered with the Mercy Health Clinic. Her ties to the institution go beyond her matriculation. Her father and mother earned degrees at UGA and her sister is currently enrolled.



High School:

Clarke Central High School

Degree objective:

B.S. biology and psychology, with a minor in Spanish

Expected graduation:

spring 2013

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

One of the highlights of my time at UGA has been volunteering at Mercy Health Center since my freshman year. Mercy is a clinic that serves the uninsured and economically disadvantaged in and around Athens. As a volunteer, I have had the opportunity to help Mercy serve its patients. For many of our patients, Mercy is not only a free clinic, but also a group of people who truly care about them and volunteer there because we want to. The opportunity to be a part of something that is such an important need for so many people has been incredible.

As a volunteer at Mercy, I have been able to serve the medically uninsured population of Athens, but the summer after my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a clinic geared towards a different underserved population. I traveled to Valdosta with the South Georgia Farmworker Health Project, a program that provides free clinics for migrant farm workers. As a logistics volunteer, I helped our clinics serve 554 patients and even had the opportunity to interpret for some of the clinic providers and their patients, which, as a Spanish minor, was a really exciting opportunity.

That same summer, I had the chance to practice my medical Spanish again in Belize with an International Service Learning trip, communicating with patients about their health histories and informing them about our clinics. I have been able to utilize my Spanish in a different way this summer by helping teach an English conversation class at Athens Latino Center for Education and Services (ALCES).  Teaching English has been something new for me, but I’ve enjoyed being able to utilize my Spanish in a different way.

I also have really enjoyed the experiences I have had because of my work in Dr. Kevin McCully’s exercise vascular biology lab. For two semesters, I worked with Dr. McCully studying the effectiveness of using near-infrared spectroscopy to measure oxygen saturation in muscle tissue. Through my research, I developed a new sense of personal and professional independence. I was able to present my research at both the southeast and national conference for the American College of Sports Medicine, and the opportunity to have scientific conversations with people about the research I had spent so much time on was truly rewarding and actually a lot of fun for me.

I feel like I have had some amazing opportunities at UGA, and I’m really excited to make the most of my last year here.

Current Employment:

I’m a student assistant in the Legal Affairs Office on campus.

Family Ties to UGA:

My dad graduated from law school at UGA, my mom is director of curriculum systems and received her master of public administration here, and my sister is a sophomore, so I have lots of family connections to UGA.

I chose to attend UGA because…

I have to admit that, growing up in Athens, UGA was actually the last place I wanted to go for college. It was probably the HOPE scholarship and getting into the Honors program that made me decide to come to UGA, However, I have had opportunities and experiences here that I really don’t think I could have had anywhere else. Even if this wasn’t my original first choice, I now believe it was the best choice.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

When it’s sunny outside, I love to sit by the fountains on North Campus.

When I have free time, I like…

to exercise. I love going to the gym and taking an exercise class or just working out on my own and not thinking about anything else for an hour or two.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

There’s really nothing about me that’s crazy, but when I volunteered for a week in Valdosta with a group of people I’d never met before, it was one of the crazier things I’ve done. I participated without knowing anyone or even what I was getting into, which is pretty out of character for me. It turned out to be an absolutely amazing experience and a risk I was glad I took.

My favorite place to study is…

outdoors. If it’s nice out, my favorite thing to do is find a table up on North Campus or get a table outside at Jittery Joe’s. Right before tests, I especially like to go on walks in my neighborhood while I look through notes or flashcards. Getting to be outdoors takes a little of the torture out of studying.

My favorite professor is…

Where do I start? I don’t know that I have ever had a bad professor at UGA, and I have definitely had more than a few favorites. The first professor I met at UGA was Dr. Karl Espelie, and I believe his advice as an adviser is what encouraged me to participate in some of the incredible courses I’ve had and the experiences I’ve taken part in. I think he also is the reason I have been able to make it to my senior year with some amount of sanity left. Many parts of the pre-med process, from courses, to the MCAT, to applications, have been stressful and overwhelming, and he’s been so helpful through all of it.

Another one of my favorite professors is Kevin McCully. As I mentioned above, I participated in research in Dr. McCully’s exercise vascular biology lab for two semesters. As a research mentor, Dr. McCully was both supportive and encouraging. He gave me opportunities in his lab that I know I could not have had anywhere else, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

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

my family. I have such a great relationship with my mom, dad and sister. They are some of my favorite people to spend time with, not to mention I laugh more when I’m with them than I do with anyone else.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

be good enough at something to compete in the Olympics. I think it would be such an amazing feeling to know that you are one of the best in the world at what you do.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

live somewhere in South America for a year or two. I have always wanted to be fluent in Spanish, but I’ve also always heard that the only way to become truly fluent is through immersion. I love the idea of living on my own for an extended period of time in a different country, where I would be forced to utilize and perfect my Spanish.

After graduation, I plan to…

hopefully be in medical school somewhere.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

my first day of class freshman year. I don’t think I’ve ever been that overwhelmed or lost.