Amazing Students

Rilee Racine

Rilee Racine

Rilee Racine was drawn to UGA because of the broad range of opportunities it offers. Aside from the excellent academics, she has participated in cheerleading, worked in a state of the art research lab and become involved in organizations across campus.


Cumming, Georgia

High School:

North Forsyth High School

Degree objective:

B.S in Biology; B.S. in Psychology

Expected graduation:

May 2018

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I have been extremely blessed with the opportunities the University of Georgia offers. After participating in sports and staying active throughout my upbringing, I was ecstatic to be able to continue my cheerleading career at UGA. This year will mark my fourth year with UGA Cheerleading, cheering for the football, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics teams, as well as fulfilling the role as an ambassador for the university at various events and functions.

I served as a biochemistry peer mentor, selected to facilitate student learning and understanding in undergraduate biochemistry under Dr. Paula Lemons. Dr. Lemons stands out among my favorite professors and it was an honor working under her as a peer mentor. Additionally, UGA offered several avenues to become involved in organizations around campus. I was invited to join Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-medical Honor Society and helped to bring a Christian Medical and Dental Association chapter to UGA’s campus. I have also been involved in the executive board for the STEM Research Alliance Human Practices Team, aiming to inspire a love for science in the next generation, and the UGA Love Your Melon Campus Crew, which aims to aid children battling cancer in America. One of my favorite organizational experiences, however, is participating in UGA’s Relay for Life ceremony in the spring.

This past spring, I traveled with Medlife, a nonprofit organization that provides medical aid and education to low-income communities around the world, to Lima, Peru. This is perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences I will take from my undergraduate career. It was amazing we could help provide medical care through mobile clinics to individuals who lacked access to health care in their communities. This trip opened my eyes to the vastness of the health care disparity globally, and I hope to continue traveling and providing health care abroad in the future.

At UGA, I was also allowed to work inside a state of the art, non-invasive exercise muscle physiology lab with Dr. Kevin McCully. We use infrared spectroscopy to measure tissue saturation levels in skeletal tissue so we can study blood flow and metabolism. I did not foresee myself enjoying research; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself excited to go into the lab each day. Working in this lab, in addition to personal experiences as a patient, transformed my view of research and focused my attention on the importance it has on the future of medicine.

Family Ties to UGA:

I am an only child and neither of my parents have ties to UGA. However, both of my mom’s sisters and all their children matriculated to the University of Georgia prior to me. As a result, attending UGA became a sort of tradition. My parents are HUGE Bulldog fans now though, purchasing season tickets to the football games each year and making the trek to Athens whenever they can.

I chose to attend UGA because…

I was drawn to UGA mainly because of the broad range of opportunities the university offers its students. Aside from excellent academics, I have participated in cheerleading for the university, worked in a state of the art research lab, and become involved in various organizations across campus. The university of Georgia has given me a well-rounded and amazing undergraduate experience.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

While there are endless enjoyable things to do on campus, my favorite would have to be spending Saturdays cheering between the hedges. There is something electric about 92,000 Georgia fans filling Sanford Stadium, uniting together to root for the Bulldogs. Over the years, this team has become a second family to me, and our coach a sort of fatherly figure to each of us. I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to be a part of something so much greater than myself.

When I have free time, I like…

When I have free time, I often spend it with family and friends. Raised as an only child with extremely attentive and loving parents has given me a strong appreciation for the bonds of family and friendship. When hoping to relax, I most enjoy spending time outside or reading a good book.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

The craziest and most exhilarating thing I have ever done would have to be riding dune buggies along the dunes of the Huacachina Oasis in Ica, Peru. I found the Peruvian drivers may not have been given the same safety guidelines we have in America, yet at 20 years old, I felt like a child riding a roller coaster for the first time. I will never forget the awe I felt witnessing the beauty of the Peruvian landscape at the peak of the dunes.

My favorite place to study is…

… in my bedroom, curled up with a blanket, a cup of coffee and a candle. However, for the nights in which I really need to focus, the science library is where I study most efficiently. It is also the perfect place for my friends and me to study together before a big test.

My favorite professor is…

While I have had the privilege of meeting several amazing professors at UGA, the individual who stands leaps and bounds above the rest is Dr. Karl Espelie. Dr. Espelie serves as my pre-medical advisor, and I have participated in both his honors biology seminar as well as a medical-directed reading under his advisement. The amount of time and effort he commits to his students is unsurmountable. If ever I am unsure of a decision or require help with anything academic, Dr. Espelie is always available and consistently goes above and beyond his call of duty. I am grateful beyond measure to have received his advice and guidance over the past three years.

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

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would probably choose the author of one of my favorite novels, Carol Cassella. During my directed reading, I read the book “Oxygen” and was enraptured by the story of her experiences as an anesthesiologist at a surgery center in Seattle. Her novels draw from her personal experiences with medicine, her role as a mother, and her opinions concerning medical ethics and health care. She has been published in several major literary outlets.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… probably continue pursuing medicine with the addition of conducting research in the laboratory to find solutions to incurable diseases.

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

… travel. Venturing to Peru opened my eyes to the vast differences between cultures across the globe, and I would love to become immersed in additional communities around the world.

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

I can hardly remember a time when I did not possess a passion for medicine. In addition to my experience shadowing abroad in Peru, I have spent a large portion of my time shadowing various physicians and volunteering inside Piedmont Athens Regional over the past three years. I also participated in a non-invasive exercise muscle physiology research lab under the supervision of Dr. Kevin McCully. In the future, I plan to continue pursuing my passion for medicine by applying to medical school and striving to someday graduate as a well-equipped M.D.

After graduation, I plan to…

I hope to attend medical school.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

While there are numerous experiences at UGA I will always remember, I will not forget the last night of my freshman year. My friends and I went across Athens jumping in the fountain and ringing the bell on North Campus, climbing the infamous UGA water tower, and late nighting with Snelling breakfast at midnight. It was a great way to end my first year at this university celebrating the friendships I made and the campus that we now called home.