Amazing Students

Makenzie Kitchens

Photo of Makenzie Kitchens
Makenzie Kitchens is committed to service within the community and has been on mission trips, tutored elementary schoolchildren and served at church and at local food banks. (Photo by Chad Osburn/UGA)

From cheering on the Bulldogs to conducting muscle research to serving as a medical intern in South Africa, Makenzie Kitchens has paved her path toward becoming a dentist with a passion for service.


Kennesaw, GA

High school:

Mount Paran Christian School

Current employment:

I am a dental assistant at Rossitch Pediatric Dentistry.

Family ties to UGA:

I am the first of my family to attend UGA, but it didn’t take long before my entire family became Bulldog fans!

Expected graduation:

Spring 2018

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology

Other degrees:

B.S. in psychology

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

UGA has provided me many opportunities to participate in life-changing experiences. I have had the privilege of being a part of the UGA cheerleading team for the last four years. We have traveled together as a team to many places to cheer on the Dawgs and represent our school. We cheer for several sporting events including football, basketball, gymnastics and volleyball. I also act as an ambassador for the university at various alumni and charity events.

Through programs at UGA, I was selected to participate in a in a seven-week medical intern program in Cape Town, South Africa. I had the opportunity to assist local doctors with patient care in an underfunded, rural township. While in South Africa, I experienced health care from a different perspective and I came back more passionate than ever. I also went hiking, on road trips, shark cage diving, and so many other once in a lifetime activities.

I have always been deeply curious and have had a strong desire to solve problems, which led me to undergraduate research. I became involved in the Exercise Muscle Physiology Lab where I studied the effects of muscle length and oxygen saturation on muscle fatigue. My hope was to find the most effective forms of therapy for those who suffer spinal cord injuries. I designed the experiments, recruited participants, completed tests, analyzed data and drew conclusions. Through failure and success, I was able to gain a tremendous amount of knowledge throughout the process. I presented this research at the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine conference. I shared my techniques and results in hopes of inspiring others. Research is something that I plan to continue during my dental career.

I have had the opportunity to serve on the executive board of two clubs that are dear to my heart: Dawgs for Diabetes and Love Your Melon. I have loved being able to give back through these clubs and impact the Athens community in a unique way. UGA has so much to offer and I am thankful for the friendships and lifelong memories I have gained from my time here.

I chose to attend UGA because …

UGA was always at the top of my list when selecting colleges because it offered countless opportunities, it wasn’t too far from home, and who doesn’t love SEC football. I was fortunate to make the Georgia cheerleading team in April my senior year of high school and this solidified my decision!

My favorite things to do on campus are …

There is nothing better than Saturdays in Athens! Cheering between the hedges along with 92,000 of my closest friends is an unforgettable experience. Being a part of something so uniting and exhilarating never gets old. The traditions of UGA, such as the battle hymn in pregame and the lights of the fourth quarter, make the games even more meaningful. I am thankful for the lifelong friendships that have formed and been enriched through experiences like these. I hold these memories close to my heart!

When I have free time, I like …

In my free time, I love to be outside. Whether I am running with a friend or drinking a cup of tea on the porch, being outside is my happy place. I love to spend time with my friends and family (family game night is the best night of the week), travel to new places, watch a good chick flick, and cook new recipes.

The craziest thing I’ve done is …

The craziest thing I have ever done is go shark cage diving in South Africa. I swam with great white sharks in the exact location where shark week is filmed. The first time I got into the cage, I did not know what to expect and my heart was racing. The guides started baiting the sharks with tuna heads, and not even one minute later a 20-foot great white shark is within reach of my arm. He jumped out of the water and ran into the cage that I was in. This continued for about 30 minutes. We saw a total of seven sharks. It was amazing!

My favorite place to study is …

Anyone who knows me knows that the science library is my second home. It is my favorite place to study especially since the Jittery Joe’s opened! I am thankful for the endless Earl Grey teas that got me through ochem and genetics. Even though I run into a lot of my friends while I am there, it is also a place I can focus and get my work done!

My favorite professor is …

… Dr. Karl Espelie! He is extremely passionate about helping his students and goes above and beyond to ensure their success. I am so thankful to have had his guidance the past four years. He has directed and encouraged me to reach my goals. He is genuine and kind hearted and my college experience would not have been the same without his guidance.

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

… Charles Martin. He is my all-time favorite author. His book, “When Crickets Cry,” is my go-to book. I have read it about 10 times and it still hasn’t gotten old! This book is what got me interested in medicine years ago. He writes Christian fiction novels with a unique writing style that immediately pulls you in. I would love to get to know the creative mind behind the books.

If I knew I could not fail, I would …

… love to open an orphanage somewhere in Africa. There are so many children that need a safe place to call home and leaders that can mentor and pour into them as they grow up. I would love to train native men and women to care for these children, educate them, and help them gain life skills to help them succeed. I would love to travel to the orphanage as much as possible and bring mission groups with me. I am very passionate about serving kids and I think this would be an amazing opportunity!

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

… travel! The world is full of beautiful places and I would love to explore them with my friends and family! I love getting to experience new cultures and landscapes as well as trying new foods and seeking adventure!

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?

I am passionate about service and people. I love working with my hands, visualizing/solving problems, building relationships, and helping people in need. Dentistry as a profession includes all of these attributes and I am excited to start the journey toward becoming a dentist. Over the past few years I have shadowed and worked under amazing dentists who have mentored me and fueled my passion. I had the honor of serving the community of Khayelitsha, South Africa, as a medical intern in a rural clinic. I have worked as a dental assistant for Rossitch Pediatric Dentistry (still currently do) as well as Atlanta West Dentistry. I have gained a tremendous amount of hands-on experience that will greatly benefit me in dental school and in the future as a dentist. I am committed to service within the community as well and have been on mission trips, tutored elementary schoolchildren and served at church and at local food banks.

After graduation, I plan to …

… get married in June and start dental school in July! It’s going to be a fun and eventful summer!

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …

I will always remember the Rose Bowl. The entire experience was unreal. I got to fly with my team to California and spend multiple days in the Disney parks doing appearances all over. The Rose Bowl parade was amazing. There were more people there than I ever expected. The bleachers were full on both sides of the road for 5.5 miles. It was one of those moments that I was overwhelmed with gratitude for UGA cheerleading and the experiences it has allowed me. Soon after the parade it was time for kickoff. That game is forever engrained in my brain. Winning in double overtime was the best possible end to an amazing experience!