Amazing Students Profiles

Sarah Ouderkirk

Sarah Ouderkirk

When Sarah Ouderkirk arrived four years ago, it didn’t take her long to know she made the right decision because UGA “has a small college feel with all of the benefits of a large, public university.” The future doctor has definitely made the most of her college experience.


Atlanta, Ga.

High School:

St. Pius X Catholic High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology and B.S. in psychology

Expected graduation:

May 2016

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

— President of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the premedical honors society
— Clinic manager at Mercy Health Center
— Vice president of membership recruitment of Alpha Omicron Pi
— Volunteer with CURE at UGA and CURE International in the Dominican Republic Orthopedic Hospital
— Sunday school teacher at Classic City Church
— Haiti mission team member with Cru
— Australia Discover Abroad participant
— Henryk and Patricia Ziomek Premedical Scholarship recipient
— Zell B. Miller Scholarship recipient

Current Employment:

Tour guide at UGA’s Visitors Center

Family Ties to UGA:

My dad graduated from the University of Georgia and was a huge influence when I was deciding which school to attend. He told me I could go to any college that I wanted to as long as it didn’t have the color orange. My sister, Laura, is currently a sophomore engineering major, so it’s fun to have her here in Athens with me as part of the Bulldog Nation. My cousin, Jennifer Qualey, goes to UGA as well.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… it made sense. To this day, my mom reminds me of the phone conversation we had on the first day of classes when I came to college. I called her raving about the city of Athens, the people who make this place so special, and how I knew I had made the right decision in choosing UGA. Knowing as a high-schooler that I wanted to attend medical school, I was sure that UGA and particularly the Honors Program would have everything I wanted in a college experience already well-established and thriving. Stepping foot on campus, I found that to be 100 percent true. I was slightly intimidated by UGA’s size, but I found that getting involved, getting to know my professors and meeting students in my classes has made this huge university feel so much smaller. It has a small college feel with all of the benefits of a large, public university.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… ring the Chapel bell, play tennis at the IM courts, go on runs through campus, attend football games and Gymdog meets, give campus tours to potential students, and spend time with professor mentors.

When I have free time, I like…

… to volunteer at Mercy Health Center. As a clinic manager, I have the opportunity to serve the underserved of Athens-Clarke County and the five surrounding counties in a medical context. I enjoy interacting with other UGA student volunteers, befriending patients, working with physicians and learning about the operations of a free health care clinic.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

… go off-roading in my Jeep Wrangler on trails through the woods while at Camp Rutledge over the summer.

My favorite place to study is…

I clocked way too many hours in the science library as a sophomore while taking “Organic Chemistry,” so now I study at home because my roommates serve as a nice distraction when I need a study break. My roommate, Katie, is always making brownies that serve as a nice study treat too!

My favorite professor is…

Well, I have two. Karl Espelie and Sylvia Hutchinson have both walked alongside me over the course of my college career. They have taken the time to get to know me as a person as well as a student.

I will be forever thankful for Dr. Espelie’s constant support and guidance while serving as my academic advisor over the last four years. He goes above and beyond for his advisees, creating lifelong friendships and rooting for them in their continued medical careers. Dr. Espelie changed my college experience for the better and showed me how to succeed as a future physician. I hope to challenge him to a tennis match pretty soon after completing my “Beginners Tennis” PE credit.

Everyone who meets Dr. Hutchinson knows and loves her for understandable reasons. She has taught two Honors seminars that I have taken and found very useful. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Hutchinson and I have enjoyed numerous meals together in fun, local restaurants where we have talked about life, family, friends and the future. She loves her students so well! When I think of my college career, I will always think of the impact that Dr. Hutchinson played on my development as a person.

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

… Dr. Scott Harrison, founder of Cure International. Dr. Harrison and his wife founded Cure International in 1996 and opened CURE’s first hospital in 1998. There are now 10 CURE hospitals in developing nations across the world. I had the opportunity to serve in the Dominican Republic Orthopedic Hospital over Thanksgiving break 2015 and was in awe of how the physicians and staff members combine elements of physical, emotional and spiritual healing to better the lives of their patients and the surrounding community.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… open a health care clinic in the inner city of Atlanta that provides whole-person care from nutrition, exercise, counseling and social services to surgery and different clinical specialties. Or I would move out west and become a cowgirl.

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

… visit all seven continents. I would spend enough time on each continent to make friends, experience the different cultures, learn the history and explore the land.

After graduation, I plan to…

… study really hard for another four years while attending medical school at either the Medical College of Georgia or Emory University’s School of Medicine. At this time, I plan to go into emergency medicine or surgery but am open to other specialties within the medical field.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… the first paper I had to write as a student at the University of Georgia. In Robert Foster’s “Introduction to Religion” course, we were studying the Christian churches’ involvement in the civil rights movement in Athens. Through the library’s resources, I came across a short article about the Presbyterian Student Center’s connection to Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first African-American woman to integrate the university. I interviewed the current campus minister, and he told me story after story about Hunter-Gault, Hamilton Holmes, and the students’ efforts to fight for equality in a time of racial turmoil. I was enthralled by the stories as they further expanded my appreciation for my university and the surrounding community.